University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻinuiākea faculty are asking students and the public to avoid the Hawaiian custom of honi or greeting each other with kisses and hugs as a precautionary measure to prevent contracting COVID-19.
UH Mānoa Professor Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa generated the term, Kapu Ola Aloha (a loving restriction that preserves life), asking everyone to continue to show aloha but with no physical contact. She is urging students to blow kisses from afar when they greet friends and family.
“We don’t want to change who we are as Hawaiians. We want to have aloha especially for our family but right now even for my grandchildren I can’t hug them because we all may be infected without knowing it yet,” Kameʻeleihiwa said.
The kapu or restriction is being suggested as another line of defense in the fight to prevent the spread of the virus. Kameʻeleihiwa suggests that people greet one another from a distance. Kumu (teachers) at Hawaiʻinuiākea are teaching students to practice Kapu Ola Aloha as a way to protect themselves, ʻohana and the community.
“It’s really difficult not to hug and kiss. And yet the ones that we love the most are the ones that we might be endangering if we do so,” Kameʻeleihiwa said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kūpuna (elderly) are at a higher risk of developing serious illnesses from COVID-19.
Kumu at UH Mānoa say the kapu will be lifted after the COVID-19 outbreak is contained.