From Iceland — Icelanders Embrace Hugs and Kisses Again As Restrictions Relax

Icelanders Embrace Hugs and Kisses Again As Restrictions Relax

Published February 24, 2021

John Pearson
Photo by
Mihai Neiconi via Unsplash

Among the many social changes resulting from the pandemic, the way that we physically interact with each other has been one of the most striking.

Greeting friends from outside your bubble with a hug or a kiss on the cheek has become a COVID no-no, and a good firm handshake to kick off a business meeting has been replaced, perhaps, by a slightly awkward wave.

But a Gallup poll of Icelanders conducted this month has revealed that, as the country tightens its borders and loosens its domestic restrictions, people are returning to their old ways. But not all of them, according to the poll as reported in Fréttablaðið.

Sealed with a kiss

“Although people are starting to relax with hugs and kisses, the tradition of shaking hands does not seem to have returned in the same way,” Gallup reported. The poll also indicated that Icelanders’ fear of infection by coronavirus, anxiety about the pandemic and concerns about its economic effects have all reduced since a previous poll in September 2020.

Personal protective measures—such as the use of gloves and masks, hand hygiene and social distancing—are still mandated by civil defence leaders, and there has been no indication that this will change. However, survey respondents told Gallup that their use of these measures has reduced in certain situations, indicating a gradual increase in comfort with the way that things are heading.

Reaping the benefits

Other indicators in the poll show that Icelanders are starting to anticipate reaping the benefits of months of national restriction. Fewer report avoiding crowds, there is less working from home and not as many Icelanders are maintaining high stocks of groceries in their kitchen cupboards. Levels of online shopping remain high, although it’s unclear whether that is a reaction to the pandemic or simply a shift to a more convenient way to buy things.

Gallup undertook this survey from February 12th to 21st, sampling 1624 people over the age of 18, of whom just over half responded.

As ever, those looking for more information or advice should go to the Icelandic Government’s excellent COVID-19 help page.

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