From bows to handshakes, how French President Emmanuel Macron has let social distances slip

Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria at Elysee Palace.


Once one of the first to adopt the coronavirus-proof “ namaste ” salute, French President Emmanuel Macron has shown signs of letting his guard down for nearly a year in the pandemic.

On Monday, three days before his office claimed to have tested positive for COVID-19, Macron greeted OECD chief Angel Gurria with a warm handshake in the courtyard of the Elysee building, dragging the 70-year-old into a loose embrace. , a photo from Reuters Shows.

They wore masks, but Macron broke his government’s number 1 pandemic rule: stick to what the French call “barrier gestures” and avoid handshakes, hugs and kisses.

“You know them, they save lives: barrier gestures are not an option!” Macron said in a tweet on July 12.

His office acknowledged that Macron had made an “unfortunate” mistake by shaking hands with Gurria. “It’s a mistake, he made this gesture, there is no denying it,” an official told Reuters, adding that the president still washed his hands constantly and asked guests to do the same.

Macron was always very tactile before the pandemic, sharing hugs with leaders such as US President Donald Trump and kissing and patting members of the public on the back.

Over the past two weeks, the French leader has punched EU counterparts at a summit in Brussels and greeted EU leader Charles Michel and Spanish leader Pedro Sanchez at the Elysée with pats on the back and elbows, footage televisions.

Now Sanchez, Michel and Gurria isolate themselves.

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Macron also hosted a lunch at the Elysée on Tuesday with about 20 parliamentary leaders and dined with a dozen lawmakers on Wednesday, parliamentary sources said, despite his government recommending no more than six guests at the table over the year-end holidays.

This contrasted with its careful follow-up of social distancing guidelines at the start of the pandemic.

In March, days before putting the nation on lockdown, he replaced the traditional handshake with Indian-style namaste when he greeted the King and Queen of Spain in Paris, squeezing his palms and bowing slightly.

He repeated the namaste salute with British Prince Charles on June 18 and kept social distancing off 10 Downing Street with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

But on October 28, when he announced a second block, he included himself among those who had overlooked social distances.

“We should all respect barrier gestures more, especially with family and friends,” he said on TV. “Now is it time for regrets?”

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