Hugs are back on, Boris Johnson has announced. But if you’re going to embrace embracing, you’ll need to be “cautious” about it.
As part of a briefing to confirm the lockdown rule changes from May 17, the prime minister announced that we’re being given back the choice of whether (or not) to socially distance from close family and friends.
However, “people will be urged to remain cautious about the risks that come with close personal contact such as hugging, as we know this remains a direct way of transmitting the disease,” Downing Street added in a statement.
The toe-curling phrase “cautious cuddle” has already infiltrated social media. And yes, we can all agree that it sounds like a mid-noughties indie band.
Sure, it feels a bit bloody weird to have government legislate our hugs and let’s face it, you (probably) already know someone who’s been instigating the sneaky side hug for weeks.
But this announcement is still a big deal, as it marks the first official relaxation of social distancing measures in over a year.
So how do you cuddle cautiously?
Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at UEA and an expert in infectious diseases, gave HuffPost UK these tips:
Hug people you live with. “If you live with someone or are in the same bubble then you have been able to hug them anyway so don’t stop now and hug them however you and they want.”
Resist rampant hugging. “If you don’t need to hug each other then don’t.”
Don’t hug everybody you know. “Try to have a preferred hugging list and stick to it.”
Avoid vaccine apathy. “If both of you have been vaccinated then the risk of transmission is actually very low but not zero.”
Do the side hug. “If you do need to hug someone then try and keep your faces away from each other so that you are not rebreathing each other’s air.”
Wider social distancing rules will remain in place in adult social care, medical, retail, hospitality and business settings, so don’t go hugging your favourite cashier just yet (bit weird, anyway).
But in private settings, go forth and give your mum/dad/aunt/best mate a big squeeze. Just not too big, please. Keep it cautious.