The handshake is widely believed in history to have begun as a gesture of peace (displaying no weapon) or as a symbolic gesture of a promise, as well as a way to introduce oneself in our times.
According to Wikipedia, the World Health Organization and the CDC, and other online sources, handshakes are known to spread a number of microbial pathogens.
Certain diseases like scabies which is transmitted skin to skin, and other highly contagious diseases where handwashing is essential but not always reliable is compromising the manners of handshakes.
Sources cite the 2009 H1N1 pandemic as a noticeable change in habits. The dean of medicine at the University of Calgary, Tomas Feasby, seems to be one of the first to suggest that fist bumps may be a “nice replacement of the handshake” in an effort to prevent transmission of the virus.
According to reports, a 2010 study points to a UCLA study wherein “only about 40 percent of doctors and other health care providers complied with hand hygiene rules in hospitals.”
A doctor at UCLA hospital, Mark Sklansky, decided to test “a handshake-free zone.” However, UCLA did not allow the ban outright, but they rather suggested: fist-bumping, smiling, bowing, waving, and non-contact Namaste gestures similar to hands over the heart or at heart-center, or perhaps sign language is the best way to move forward and maintain manners.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the fall of the handshake became blatantly obvious. Cultures in many countries whether by law or social adaptations are employing even more alternatives like the elbow bump, and foot-tapping (“Wuhan Shake”) or non-contact actions for social distancing purposes.
The Intellegencer cited in March of 2020, that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, told everyone in the room she was planning to be very rude to them. “I’m not going to shake anyone’s hand tonight,” she said.
According to The Intellegencer article, handshaking, like face-touching, is taking a hit amid the global pandemic. Countries and organizations are promoting the “foot- shake” which also appears to have first grown to popularity in China during Covid-19.
Foot-shaking or popularly called the “Wuhan Shake,” is where two people meet and rub shoes. Apparently rubbing dirty shoes together won’t harm and is polite in 2021.