From next week, a series of restrictions will be lifted in the UK, including hugging. It’s been over a year since Brits have been able to embrace their loved ones, so many are looking forward to finally getting some cuddles from their family, friends, and new romantic partners. However, given the rise of the Indian variant in several hotspots of the country, the government is going to advise cautious hugging to the public.
Who should be cautiously hugging?
According to the experts, there are many factors to take into consideration when it comes to safe snuggling. Firstly, those who are unvaccinated should definitely be more cautious while hugging other people. Physical contact between unvaccinated Brits should be very brief, and masks should be worn at all times. Whereas, contact between vaccinated people are comparatively low-risk, so people can get away with a longer hug. CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen says:
Fully vaccinated people can hug one another without restriction, including indoors, without masks.
Hugging in moderation
BBC spoke with Catherine Noakes, a specialist in airborne infections at the University of Leeds, about what it means to hug in moderation. She explains:
I think it depends who you are hugging. If a grandparent is hugging a grandchild and the grandparents are fully vaccinated, that’s probably quite a low risk activity.
It would be worrying if we were advocating hugging all of our friends every time we meet them again because I think that is going to perpetuate an awful lot of additional close contact that could still spread the virus.
Noakes suggests that everyone should be stringent with the hugs you’re giving out. She suggests:
If you are going to hug somebody, restrict it to very small numbers of close family. Perhaps [someone] you really value a hug from.
Don’t hug too frequently, keep it short. Try and avoid being face to face.