Skip to main content

Kissing goodbye to ‘la bise’? Coronavirus threatens traditional French greeting

French government health officials have advised against greeting people with a kiss amid the coronavirus outbreak.
French government health officials have advised against greeting people with a kiss amid the coronavirus outbreak. © TF1 / FRANCE 24

It is used to greet friends, family and colleagues across France, but the traditional ‘bise’ – a kiss on each cheek – may now be a health hazard, with government officials advising against it amid the coronavirus epidemic. 

Advertising

"I have formally advised against the practice of handshaking, the reduction of social contact in a physical manner, and that would include the practice of 'la bise',” French Health Minister Olivier Véran told a press conference on Saturday.

The reaction to the advice has been mixed. While some have embraced it, others have found the habit of a lifetime difficult to give up.

"This morning, when I went to kiss a colleague, he said ‘no, we can't shake hands anymore’. I didn't shake his hand, but I kissed him anyway,” one Parisian office worker, Gaëlle Fessler, told AFP.

France has so far seen a total of 204 confirmed coronavirus cases with four deaths.

Click on the player above to watch the full report.

Daily news briefReceive essential international news every morning

Page not found

The content you requested does not exist or is not available anymore.