Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday issued a health decree asking people to stop shaking hands and kissing, as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus in Italy.

There are many ways to say hello in Italian. But many Italians would argue there’s no way to do it properly without a kiss and a hug.

Thanks to the coronavirus, Italians are about to have to figure out how to do precisely that, given looming new nationwide government recommendations against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Conte would discuss personal contact among other topics – following advice from scientific advisors who are “very worried” about the virus, the ANSA news agency and other media said.

According to the reports, Italians will be urged to also avoid handshakes, and those aged over 75 invited to stay home as much as possible.

READ ALSO: Bye-bye handshakes: How coronavirus is changing global habits

The recommendations would significantly affect daily life in a country where kissing – on the cheeks – is a regular form of greeting among friends, including men.

Italy is battling against the biggest coronavirus outbreak in Europe, with more than 2,500 infections as of late Tuesday, including 79 deaths.

Experts are considering extending lockdown measures, currently valid for 11 municipalities in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, to other virus-affected communities.

Authorities have said that this week would determine whether the first containment measures introduced on Feb. 23 are working, or if tougher action is needed.

“This week will definitely be important,” Civil Protection Agency chief Angelo Borrelli said on Tuesday.

“We are ready to review our actions depending on the scenarios that we will up against, aiming for more strictness or even, we hope, less,” he added.


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