What is Covid & Cough Etiquette?
Covid-19 is a coronavirus that can cause significant respiratory illness especially in the aged and those with chronic disease. As a pandemic, its effects have touched every corner of the globe, and our lives have been changed. We can't work, go to school, play and interact in the same ways as before - we must distance ourselves socially in order to protect ourselves and others. Thus, we've needed to adapt to a new set of social etiquette rules:
The Delayed Greeting:
Recently I surveyed a number of people to ascertain their views on Covid-19. Some weren't so concerned, feeling that it is just one virus amongst many that will eventually go away. Others are, understandably, on high alert, concerned and taking all necessary precautions. However, everyone understood the need for respiratory etiquette and social distancing at this time. Many are wearing gloves to add an extra layer of protection, as well as a reminder not to touch their faces.
With this in mind, handshakes are on pause everywhere. When making an introduction, wait for a few seconds and observe the person you are greeting and allow how they want to greet you. You may be the person who will initiate the introduction. If so, use open body language, smile your acknowledgement, wave and promptly make an introduction, perhaps a small nod. The other person may want to just say a verbal greeting or an elbow bump or foot tap. (Tip or side of each elbow/tapping on someone shoe side on).
‘The Elbow Bump or Foot Tap’:
For those who do not mind very minimal contact, then the elbow bump may be in order. When doing so, you can have your face positioned to the side to minimise being in their personal space.
Most cultures have ideals about personal space. In many western cultures personal space is estimated to be the space approximately 70cm around a person. Governmental authorities are advising today to keep at least 1.5m away. So when a person is talking to you, or positioned close to you, take note and move yourself to ensure a greater personal space.
You may be the one enclosed by a few people and feel uncomfortable. If you do, don't hesitate to politely speak up and remind others gently about the need to be distanced from each other. You may choose to quietly remove yourself from the situation.
Use Good Hygiene:
This will help prevent spread of the virus and other microbes. Use soap and alcohol gel extensively. If you feel you are about to sneeze and there are no tissues available in that moment, use the inner side of your elbow to “catch” the sneeze. Then go to wash your hands and wipe your face. Most local governments have websites with helpful health procedures that one can follow as directed.
Wearing a Face Mask:
Given that Covid-19 is passed primarily through droplets (when breathing, talking, coughing, sneezing), wearing a face mask has become de rigueur worldwide. It has been enforced by regulations in many enclosed and non-enclosed public spaces, depending on what country or city you are in. Therefore, protect your community and yourself by keeping a few face masks handy at home, in the car, your bag or back pocket. For example, in his latest media release, Daniel Andrews, State Premier for Victoria, Australia, stated that from 22nd July 2020, face masks are mandatory and anyone caught not wearing a face covering will be fined $200.
Simply put, etiquette demonstrates care, concern and kindness for yourself and others. It has never been more important on a personal, and global scale. By using the gestures listed here, you can help stop the spread of Covid-19.
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Having been born and lived in Australia most of my life, we were taught that the Australian Aboriginals were the first to occupy and that was it. Unfortunately, 35 years ago, we were not taught how to interact, understand their language or culture. Today, going into classrooms now, we are better e quipped and regularly have interactions with elders and now have cultural centres where we can better understand their connections to land and people.
What is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander etiquette? I recently asked a Yorta Yorta brother and a Pitjantjatjara sister both living in Alice Springs, their advice:
These traditional cultures place importance with building and maintaining rapport and trust. When introducing yourself, do it with warmth and sincerity. Talk about yourself first. Be slow, simple and methodical, as English may not be their first language. Dialects such as Kriol, Aboriginal English or Torres Strait Creole may be spoken. There are over 300 Aboriginal languages spoken throughout Australia and Torres Strait Islands.
It's best to avoid eye contact at first and look away while you are talking. It is a gesture of respect. Direct eye contact may be viewed as aggression, rudeness and disrespectful. Always observe the other person's body language, then use it to guide your own facial expressions and body language. Be mindful of cross-gender eye contact, only do so when there is conversation initiated.
Avoid asking too many questions, if you are not familiar with them, explain why you need to ask questions. The best way is to speak about who you are, where you are from, where your family is from and where you’re going. Perhaps, use a story to get the answer to your question. They will tend to open-up.
A form of direct respect is using the titles of ‘Aunty’ or ‘Uncle’, they may not be your actual family or even older than you. If you have been living in an area a long time and are familiar with its people, you may be honoured and asked to call someone their ‘sister’ or ‘brother’.
Listening is imperative. Due to spoken and body language differences, the person may make an explanation of something in a way that you are not used too. Take time out to actively listen, do not interrupt or talk-over, show kindness. You may want to paraphrase and repeat back what they said to show you are listening and wanting to understand.
Be aware that due to language differences or due to shyness, that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander may say ‘yes’ to your questions, even if they are not in agreement with you. They may simply wish to end the conversation and by saying ‘yes,’ they feel like they can conclude the exchange, especially if they do not understand what you are saying. It is wise to take time to explain in a parable or story, what you need or require. You may need to find an interpreter.
Be mindful of personal space. Standing too close, especially with the opposite gender, could be sending signals that could be interpreted wrongly. Best to keep the usual amount of distance away. Always ask permission to touch another person.
Time is counted differently. Community values and family responsibilities will be prioritised over time. When making an appointment, be flexible.
Breaches of confidentiality can lead to shame (shame is the feeling of humiliation or distress) based on over-sharing personal and private information with others. It is advised to have serious discussions, holding it in a place the person is most comfortable, private and away from public spaces. Talking about ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ business needs to be kept private and confidential, you want to engender trust and rapport. Once that is broken, all association with that person could end permanently.
If you are travelling around Australia and Torres Strait Islands and want to walk on their land, you must ask for the owner or elder permission to approach them, then you are able to ask if you're able to walk on their land. You must be able to make an acknowledgement of country. It is a way that we can show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and have an ongoing and open relationship with the traditional owner of the land.
Please be aware, different states, different areas, tribes or associations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, culture and language will differ.
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Champagne or Sparkling Wine?
Most of us love champagne. We enjoy hearing the distinctive “pop,” wondering if, and how far, the cork will go flying. We look forward to the effervescence and drinking those sharp bubbles... it really is an amazing beverage. Have you ever wondered what the etiquette for champagne is? Here are a few points on this special commodity:
1. The name champagne is protected by Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne and can be only used by the growers of that French region. In Australia the wording used is “sparkling wine.”
2. Sparkling wines must be chilled before serving. There are a few ways to chill wine, put the wine in the refrigerator and chill to 8-10°C/46- 50°F or 3 hours. Putting it in ice and a bucket should take approximately 30 minutes to chill, and water will help bring the temperature down.
3. When uncorking the bottle, hold the cork and twist the bottle not the cork, Hold your glass upright rather than tilting your glass. When pouring into the glass, fill it only a third of the way up. Never fill it to the top.
4. When uncorked, sparkling wine does not need to be left to breathe, like a red wine. When pouring, the wine will air and that is all it needs. It will keep for approximately 24 hours in the refrigerator with a wine stopper. You will be surprised how well sparkling wines will keep in this manner.
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