Canadian family invents safe way to give hugs during pandemic

Carolyn Ellis (right) hugs her mother Susan Watts using the ‘hug glove’ in Guelph on May 16. (AFP pic)

TORONTO: A Canadian woman has come up with an ingenious way to safely hug her mother, even during the coronavirus pandemic: the “hug glove,” a plastic tarp with four sleeves hanging from a clothesline.

In the southern Ontario city of Guelph, Carolyn Ellis and her husband Andrew developed the so-called “hug glove” on the eve of Mother’s Day, which this year was celebrated on May 10 in North America.

It “occurred to me that she wasn’t getting the hugs, and we really needed to do something about that,” Carolyn told AFP.

“I want to give it for Mother’s Day.”

They taped plastic sleeves to a large tarp, allowing two people to hug each other without making direct contact.

“It was very much a time effort, trying to figure out the size and the height of the holes,” Ellis said.

“We worked on it until late hours of Saturday night, and then we had everything set up for Mother’s Day on Sunday.”

“It was a great gift.”

A video they recorded of the moment they embraced was shared on social media and quickly went viral.

But Ellis says she was surprised by how fast it took off.

“I just wanted to hug my mom,” she said.

“We were quite shocked on how quickly it went viral but thrilled that other people are benefiting from our hug. We loved it.”

And while a plastic-covered hug will never be as good as the real thing, it was still comforting – after weeks of lockdowns and other social distancing measures – to be able to hold her mother again, Ellis said.

“This allows it to kind of get back to normal. It really gives us a sense of hope that it’s not going to be forever,” Ellis said.

“That physical feeling feels like home, you know, a hug from your mom – it feels so good.”