One thing most people have missed and for which they are now yearning is close physical contact with their relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Most of us have been surrounded by immediate family for over 10 weeks and relations have gotten closer in many cases; we know, too, that hostile and toxic situations in some households have not improved, maybe worsened.

During the extended lock downs and curfews and restricted activities, people have tried to make the best of a bad situation regarding physical contact (see a BBC report). Greetings have had to be modified. Kissing and handshaking were two popular greetings that died rapidly. People came up with alternatives such as elbow or foot knocking, waves or other hand gestures (see some here), but as physical distancing became the norm, it was literally almost impossible to have greetings that involved touch. I’ve come up with my own backward-interlocked arms as a ‘hug’ of sorts.

Caribbean people are very tactile and have suffered more than many other cultures. The awkwardness of not being able to wrap arms around each other or some other warm embrace oozes out of some situations. Thankfully, because we’ve been forced to limit circulation and contact, that awkwardness has not always been apparent. But, I sense that one of the things to look for as people resume what was normal activity is how physical distance remains in place and how people will react when others seek to initiate close contact.

Touch is fundamental to human communication and is one way people establish trust in relationships, and it’s interesting to think how that will have to be established another way.