Piers isn’t keen to get back to pre-pandemic hugging any time soon (Picture: Ken McKay/ITV/REX)
While the journalist may no longer be sitting next to the doc, after he sensationally quit the ITV show in March, Dr Hilary’s advice is still making its way to Piers who mused on the idea of hugging family and friends post-pandemic.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to announce further easing of coronavirus restrictions in England, with hugs with family and friends and indoor socialising expected to be allowed from next week.
However, if you were thinking of grabbing Piers for a big, ol’ embrace, think again, as he wrote on Twitter Monday morning: ‘Some personal news:
‘My own hugging ban will continue indefinitely past May 17.’
Followers of the journalist were quite supportive of his statement and shared their own plans to maintain some level of social distancing – or the old adage, ‘hands, face space’ – with one musing: ‘My personal mask wearing regime will continue indefinitely.’
Another was on board the no-hug train: ‘Me too, until we both fully vaccinated no hugs for outsiders allowed.’
Kevin Pietersen thought he’d go for a little sass punch in the replies, asking Piers: ‘Who’d hug YOU?!?!’ to which the Life Stories presenter had an arsenal of images waiting, sharing a couple of them hugging and adding: ‘You… for years… often very inappropriately.’
Piers may be having a good time reacting to GMB – with Alastair Campbell sitting in his old seat this week – from the comfort of his couch and a (much) later alarm these days, however Dr Hilary’s advice on the programme today may come as a blow to many who were hoping to get closer to loved ones after a year of strict social distancing.
When asked by Piers’s former GMB host Susanna Reid what the risk of hugging is, Dr Hilary replied: ‘If you’re in hugging range and you’re touching somebody and your face is right next to theirs, you’re going to be breathing the breath that they’re exhaling.
‘The virus is transmitted through aerosol droplets so the risk is much higher.’
He then proceeded to echo professor Catherine Noakes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and said that hugs should be selective and short.
‘It could be more dangerous than keeping at a distance and being sensible,’ he continued.
Still, the television doctor did acknowledge that hugging has health benefits as they help to release ‘happy hormones’ which make you feel more relaxed and diminishes anxiety and depression, he implored people to remain cautious.
‘This showing of human affection through touch, through a hug, is very beneficial in most circumstances, but right now, it might be a mistake because we’ve got these new variants,’ Dr Hilary added.
‘We’ve still got 2,000 cases that we know about every day… so it is still time to be cautious.’
Good Morning Britain returns 6am on ITV.