Video shows Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo perform “foot shake.”
When OPEC ministers descend on Vienna to decide oil production policy, their meetings are usually accompanied by displays of brotherhood between the men in charge of a third of global crude supplies.
This time, as the world battles a coronavirus outbreak, they have been given strict instructions: no handshakes, don’t hug and wash your hands frequently.
“Avoid close contact,” reads a poster for ministers and delegates as they enter the headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in the Austrian capital. “Avoid handshakes and hugs,” it adds in its list of directives.
The secretary general of the group and the Russian energy minister were shown in a video on Wednesday chuckling as they tapped each others feet, as an alternative form of greeting.
But another other video posted on Twitter by the OPEC secretariat also showed the two men in a brief handshake, while an official photo also showed Barkindo clasping hands with Nigeria’s minister.
As part of its precautions, OPEC said the number of delegates attending this week’s meetings would be kept to a minimum and journalists were barred from the OPEC building.
Outside the headquarters, the usual crowd of reporters clustering around ministers as they came and went from hotels was noticeably smaller.
Novak and several OPEC ministers and delegates had their temperature checked before entering the OPEC headquarters.