Mark your calendar, 3/17/2020 was a significant day in French history. It was the date the country locked down and observed confinement to level the curve of COVID-19. More importantly, it was the day France’s cultural etiquette morphed.
Below, a quote from Thomas Friedman’s New York Times op-ed “Our New Historical Divide: B.C. and A.C. – the World Before Corona and the World After”:
“So, a virus-laden bat bites another mammal in China, that mammal is sold in a Wuhan wildlife market, it infects a Chinese diner with a new coronavirus and in a few weeks all my public schools are closed and I’m edging six feet away from everyone in Bethesda.”
Edging six feet away from everyone in his hometown Bethesda, MD is known as the practice of social distancing. The etiquette of social distancing will vary around the world. However, here in France, 3/17/2020 was the day “Faire La Bise” better known as cheek kissing became extinct.
What will be the significant cultural etiquette change in North America?
It’s so tempting to answer your question with a snarky remark about exactly what etiquette in North America is/was. Wait… I think I DID just make a snarky remark. It’s hard to say what the lasting effects will be. It will be partly dependent on the timing for a vaccine. But humans need connection and the caring touch of other humans, whether that be a hug, a hand shake, a fist bump, an air kiss, a cheek kiss (or 3) or something new that is created A.C.