Stop handshaking movement grows amid coronavirus concerns

Founder hopes to change societal norms

Stop the Handshake
Stop the Handshake

ORLANDO, Fla. – As concerns over the coronavirus continue to grow, an Orlando mother is encouraging people to stop shaking hands to prevent the spread of germs.

Rebecca Amundson said she became more germ conscious after she recently became a mother. She said she often found herself shaking hands with people because that is a standard way of greeting others.

"Then my baby would need to be attended to, picked up, fed or soothed and I didn't even have a chance to wash my hands," Amundson said.

She said amid coronavirus concerns, as we well as knowing how easily the flu and common cold can spread from person to person, she realized she needed to limit handshaking to protect herself and her baby. She started the #stopthehandshake movement to inform people she meets that she is not a hand shaker.

She created a pin that can be worn on your clothes that features two hands shaking with a red no symbol.

"This initiative hopes to change the societal norm and help keep us all healthy and happy," Amundson said. "People can wear our pin, hat, or any of our other gear to join the movement."

Amundson said the "Stop the Handshake" pin is an easier way to start the conversation and avoid an awkward encounter.

“I am seeing that so many people have similar feelings about handshaking, but don’t know how to respectfully decline,” she said. “I am hearing from people from all walks of life that handshaking is something that they don’t want to do often but we do it anyway because it is the ‘polite’ thing to do.”

Vivienne Darling is the founder of the British Academy of Manners and Etiquette in Orlando. She has been teaching proper manners and etiquette for more than 40 years.

Darling said she is not seeing people shy away from handshakes and encourages people to wash their hands.

She adds you can politely tell people you do not want to shake their hands.

"I think a beautiful smile, a nod, and explain why you're doing this is the simplest," Darling said.

For more information or to join the movement, visit www.stopthehandshake.com or follow the initiative on Instagram @stopthehandshake

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