US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — When OPEC ministers come to Vienna to make decisions on oil policy, their meetings are usually accompanied by friendly gestures. This time, when the world is struggling with an outbreak of coronavirus, the participants received strict instructions: no handshakes and hugs, wash your hands often.
“Avoid close contact,” the sign says at the entrance to the headquarters of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the Austrian capital.
“Avoid shaking hands and hugs,” the warning said. On the sign, in order to avoid misunderstanding, two hugging men and a large red cross are shown.
The number of delegates present at the OPEC meeting is limited, and journalists are not allowed into the building.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and several other OPEC ministers and delegates measured the temperature at the entrance to headquarters on Wednesday.
“If someone arriving at OPEC has a temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius, a signal will come in,” a source at OPEC headquarters told Reuters.
Not all officials followed directions to keep their distance. OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo shakes hands with Novak and Nigeria’s Oil Minister Timipre Sylva in photographs published Wednesday.
Others were more careful. “I told people I won’t shake their hands,” said one of the OPEC delegates.
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