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After prohibiting handshakes and high-fives, Vandenberg AFB creates the ‘corona kick’

The Visitor Control Center hours of operation run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, including holidays. These new hours have been in effect since Aug. 2015 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Michael Peterson)

During a visit to Vandenberg Air Force Base’s 30th Space Wing Public Affairs building in early March, two Air Force personnel were observed extending a single leg toward each other and tapping the tips of their boots together in a greeting now known as the “corona kick.”

The practice already was in place before March 13, when 30th Space Wing commander Col. Anthony Mastalir proposed a larger initiative at Vandenberg AFB to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to 2nd Lt. Kaitlin Cashin.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, personnel at the 30th Space Wing were charged with finding new ways ways to maintain space and professionalism on base while keeping a level of intimacy that goes along with a personal greeting.

But the 30th Space Wing personnel took that a step further. After reviewing base policy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and social media trends, the corona kick was born, Cashin said.

Despite the new greeting, Air Force personnel still are required to follow military saluting customs where applicable.

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“We wanted to provide people healthier alternatives to the handshakes and fist bumps that used to be common in close-knit groups here on base,” said Robin Ghormley, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs chief. “As we observed the evolution of interaction online move from handshakes to fist bumps to elbow bumps, the 30th Space Wing wanted to err on the side of caution by offering the most distance-friendly and limited-contact greeting for our community.”

The way it works is simple: Walk up to the person being greeted, but not too close, extend the leg toward them and touch the tip of their foot with yours.

The base promoted the corona kick in a Boomerang video on Instagram in March, demonstrating how to perform the greeting while still maintaining distance.

On March 20, Vandenberg AFB limited its access to essential personnel only and has implemented more stringent social distancing rules to include avoiding interpersonal activity as much as possible, meaning the corona kick is not as common as it was weeks ago, Cashin said.

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© 2020 Santa Maria Times