23 March 2021

A year on from lockdown: 8 everyday things we wouldn’t dream of doing now

23 March 2021

The pandemic has changed our life in lots of significant ways – we’ve been separated from our friends and family, many of us have been working from home, and the pub has been closed for what feels like an eternity. But there are also lots of little everyday occurrences that have been altered forever too, that perhaps aren’t so obvious.

From germ-spreading supermarket behaviours to the way we greet strangers, here are just a few small daily habits that have quickly become a thing of the past.

1. Licking our fingers to separate the shopping bags

The grocery bags in the supermarket can be pesky things to separate – especially the super thin ones that you find tightly packed together in the fruit and veg aisles. Those slippery plastic bags can often be stuck together, meaning you need to lick your fingers to get a good grasp on each one.

Since coronavirus is primarily spread through droplets of our own saliva, we can’t imagine a world where we’d voluntarily stick our fingers in our own mouths, let alone smear our spittle all over a stack of communal shopping bags.

2. Shaking hands with a stranger

Historians say that handshaking dates right back to the 5th century BC, where it was used as a sign of peace, to signify that neither person was carrying a weapon.

Now it’s the modern standard greeting for business and we’d often start a work meeting with a firm grasp on one another’s hands.

Unsurprisingly, handshakes are becoming a relic of the past, considering that skin-to-skin contact is one of the main ways that we can spread germs to others. Now we’re much more likely to say hello with a Covid-friendly elbow bump instead.

3. Blowing out the candles on birthday cake

Call us party poopers, but we can’t quite believe that we used to clap and sing while a loved one blew their germs all over a perfectly good birthday cake, that we later tucked into without any thought of the consequences.

Infectious diseases aside, the tradition of someone purposefully breathing spittle all over food and then handing it out to us to eat is one that we’re happy to take a long break from.

4. Trying on makeup samples

Remember the days when you could visit the makeup counters at your local Boots, try on all the free samples and effectively give yourself a free makeover?

Now we’re a year into lockdown, the concept of sticking our fingers into a communal pot of cream blusher and smearing it over our skin is one that’s practically making us shudder.

You never quite know who’s prodded and poked the testers before you, which means they can be a huge hotspot for all kinds of unwanted germs and bacteria. And you’re often then putting those products directly onto your face, or even worse – your mouth.

5. Sharing gym equipment

Whether it’s a yoga mat that still has the faint whiff of the last person’s sweaty feet or a dumbbell that’s been thrown in air by dozens of people in your cardio circuit class, we often think about the haphazard way we used to use gym equipment.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re welcoming the idea of gyms reopening, but this time around we’ll be heavily disinfecting each piece of equipment with antibacterial spray before we even dream of touching it.

6. Biting your nails

For most people, nail biting is an occasional thing. You start unconsciously doing it when you’re bored in meetings, feeling anxious on a first date or thinking hard for the solution to a problem.

Since the government issued advice to stop touching our faces (in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus), we’ve been trying to keep our hands well away from our mouths.

The ridiculous irony is that all the bad news of the pandemic has continually set us on edge, making us want to bite our nails more than ever before.

7. Asking someone to take a photo of you

You know those times where you’re find yourself in the perfect photo opportunity but you don’t have anyone to take your snap?

Sometimes you make do with a badly-framed selfie, but other times you ask a random stranger to take your phone and capture the magic.

Touching things that other people have handled, like a phone screen, increases your risk of picking up germs and diseases though, so it’s little wonder that we’ve been keeping our devices to ourselves.

8. Holding the rails on public transport

In the back of our minds we’ve always known how gross touching public handrails is. Those innocent-looking steel bars have been handled by hundreds of other people before you – and who knows how recently they washed their hands?

Sometimes you need to grab a hold of a handrail for safety’s sake, but thankfully you can do it in a way that doesn’t compromise your health.

Whether you carry a pair of surgical gloves with you, or you simply slip your sleeve over your hand before touching a rail, there are ways to hold on safely.

Let’s just hope the days of touching germ-ridden handrails with our bare hands are in the past – but we’ll be continuing to carry anti-bacterial gel, just in case.

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