English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

hygiene +‎ theater, modelled after security theater.

Noun edit

hygiene theater (uncountable)

  1. Acts of cleaning intended more for the purpose of making an area appear safe and clear of disease-causing agents than actually achieving that aim.
    • 2020 July 30, Zeynep Tufekci, “We Need to Talk About Ventilation”, in The Atlantic[1]:
      It seems baffling that despite mounting evidence of [ventilation's] importance, we are stuck practicing hygiene theater—constantly deep cleaning everything—while not noticing the air we breathe.
    • 2021 April 6, Paige Winfield Cunningham, “The Health 202: Michigan is the new coronavirus hot spot. The U.K. variant is partly to blame.”, in Washington Post[2]:
      The persistence of such practices has led to the advent of a derisive term — ‘hygiene theater’ — to describe rituals that appear to do little to stop the virus from spreading.
    • 2021 July 12, Sirin Kale, “Hygiene theatre: how excessive cleaning gives us a false sense of security”, in The Guardian[3]:
      [Bruce] Schneier agrees that Covid-19 has ushered in an era of hygiene theatre. “Like security theatre,” he says, “hygiene theatre comes from bad risk analysis – really, from ignorance.”