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Not shaking hands during COVID-19 pandemic is 'new polite': Coquitlam mayor

Last Updated Jul 17, 2020 at 2:23 pm PDT

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart riding his bike. (Courtesy Richard Stewart, Instagram)
Summary

The mayor of Coquitlam is letting constituents know he's not being rude in refusing to shake anyone's hand

Richard Stewart is also reminding them of the new normal and to keep a safe distance to help limit spread of COVID-19

Mayor describes being at a Coquitlam park and being approached by someone who wanted to shake his hand

COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) — The mayor of Coquitlam is letting constituents know he’s not being rude in refusing to shake anyone’s hand.

Richard Stewart is also reminding them of the new normal and to keep a safe distance to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

He says in a Facebook post he’s been approached dozens of times in recent months by people who seem to have forgotten about the pandemic.

“There just seems some people who are either complement, more so than in the past, or they’re aggressively ignoring the instructions of public health officers.”

Posted by Richard Stewart on Friday, July 17, 2020

Stewart describes being at Town Centre Park in Coquitlam recently and being approached by someone who wanted to shake his hand.

“So I was on my bike at the time, which is hard to back up, while you’re straddling a bike,” he says.

He almost tripped, Stewart wrote, adding another person came up and wanted to shake his hand, saying he respected the mayor’s position on a mental health issue.

Declining to shake hands isn’t rude, Stewart explains, although some people seem to think they are entitled, as taxpayers, to such interactions.

“They seem to have completely skipped the social distancing imperatives that we’re all trying to live under,” Stewart says.

“And we all have to learn the new polite. The new polite is, ‘No, we don’t shake hands.’ And if the hand is offered, we politely decline, we do the chicken thing. We do whatever we have to do.”

Stewart stresses no one should get complacent when it comes to COVID-19.

–with files from Lisa Steacy