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Hug curtains seem like a sweet way to hug loved ones—but they may not actually be safe

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Thanks to the physical distance we've been asked to keep in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus, we're all missing out on normal social interactions. We miss seeing our loved ones faces up close. We miss sitting at a dinner table with our extended family members. We miss hugging them.

Those of us who are huggers have been particularly put out by this major lifestyle change. Some people's primary love language is physical touch and affection. The idea of not being able to express it adds an extra layer of stress over an already difficult situation.

So people are getting creative. However, in the age of coronavirus, creativity might not be the best idea.

A 10-year-old girl in California built a "hug curtain" so she could hug her grandparents and surprised them at their front door. Made from a plastic sheet, some paper plates cut into rings and plastic sleeves, the curtain seems to allow people to be physically close without exposing one another to the potential virus.

Another person shared a similar set up in a backyard, using a clothesline. The daughter's joyful laughter while she hugs her mama just illustrates how wonderful being able to hug someone can be.

Others have created similar hugging barriers from shower curtains to PVC pipes placed in their yards.

However, one health expert is cautioning people against the "hug curtain" idea. Houston Health Authority and Medical Director, Dr. David Persse, told investigative reporters at KHOU-11:

"While I very much sympathize with the desire to embrace loved ones, especially during this challenging time, there is no adequate substitution for social distancing. A shower curtain hug, while creative, unfortunately, does not offer the level of protection needed to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Although I understand the concept, a shower curtain is not personal protective equipment and using it as such includes the potential for exposure."

Watch the investigative report here: 

There seems to be a short of virologists and public health officials sharing their thoughts on the hug curtain idea—they're probably all a little busy right now. But at the very least, the idea should be approached with a healthy dose of caution.

We're all being asked to sacrifice for the greater good right now and that's difficult. Most of us are trying to heed the advice of public health experts to limit the spread of the virus by maintaining social distancing, even as some areas start to lift lockdown restrictions. While many of us could use a hug right now, we have to ask ourselves if it's worth the risk.

None of this is easy, but we may need to hold out a little longer before we start hugging our friends and family again, curtain or no curtain.

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