In this paper, we reflect on ‘scientific’ governmental and media responses to Covid-19 in the UK, illuminating their negative impacts on complex and emergent touch forms/practices and people’s related emotions. The scientisation of the pandemic led to the government initially placing the country in lockdown and enforcing social distancing. It thereby regulated and proscribed routine and normative touch practices in order to save lives. However, such strategies were not accompanied by an awareness that increased touch deprivation could be emotionally harmful, that lockdown could exacerbate abusive touch in the privatised familial domestic sphere, and that paid care-giver touch in other contexts, such as care homes for the elderly, could also be potentially lethal. These negative consequences are important for social workers to understand and appropriately respond to, as they disproportionately impact vulnerable and marginalised groups and are heightened for service users, who are frequently members of many disadvantaged groups simultaneously.
- social work