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Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain confirmed Friday (16 October) that couples living apart in regions with Tier Two restrictions are not allowed to have sex indoors.
Love is dead.
Downing Street representatives told a briefing of Westminster journalists that partners are free to meet outdoors, but must still adhere to social distancing guidelines, the Evening Standard newspaper reported.
Department of Health and Social Care officials also confirmed to PinkNews that even those in so-called “established relationships” will see the number of settings they can meet in reduced under the three-pronged system.
While tier-crossed lovers may find themselves in a bind, sexual health experts continued to ring the same advice they have for months: “Your safest sexual partner is yourself.”
The premier announced the new three-tier system of restrictions – “medium, high and very high”, there is no “low” – to simplify what had become a confusing patchwork of targeted lockdowns earlier this week.
Couples not living together cannot have sex indoors under certain tiers, Downing Street says.
While singles have suffered months of loneliness and asking themselves, “Do I really need this boyfriend pillow?” under the so-called “casual sex ban”, some couples may be barred from seeing one another under certain tiers.
In the raft of new pandemic policies, the first tier duplicates the country’s most recent restrictions. The second tier bars people from different households from socialising together indoors.
While the third shutters bars, pubs, gyms and other businesses branded as “non-essential”. Schools and offices, regardless of tiers, will remain open.
“The rules on household mixing in Tier Two set out that you should mix with your own household only unless you’ve formed a support bubble and that obviously does apply to some couples,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
A support bubble is, according to infectious disease epidemiologists and government officials, a network between a single-person home and one other household.
And as much as the term, “established relationship“, was never quite defined by ministers, health secretary Matt Hancock previously suggested that such committed couples do not need to socially distance.
That’s no longer the case, the Downing Street official said.
“The purpose of the measures that were put in place is to break the chain in transmission between households and the scientific advice is there is a greater transmission of the virus indoors,” he said.
Couples in tier two regions can meet outdoors, however, “as it was set out in the guidance that was published this week the ban on household mixing is in relation to indoors and outdoors the rule of six applies.”
A Department of Health representative said that such an “outdoor” area would be a place like a park, not, they said, “outdoor areas of indoor venues such as beer gardens” in tier three regions.
‘Your safest sexual partner during the COVID-19 pandemic is yourself,’ says top sexual health expert.
Public health officials have grappled with drawing up guidelines when it comes to sex amid the pandemic, acknowledging the importance of human touch during a moment of cratering mental health.
While some health agencies have been more skittish than others, some have more frankly suggested people who do not have a committed sex partner throw on their face masks and hit the local glory hole or well-ventilated, uh, outside space to have safe sex.
Overall, however, most stress the importance of minimising close-contact with others.
“Our core advice remains that your safest sexual partner during the COVID-19 pandemic is yourself or someone within your household,” Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, told PinkNews.
Brady sought to stress that those having sex, especially those without access to an exclusive partner, must be wary of coronavirus guidelines. Safety, he said, is crucial.
“We are continuing to learn how to live with this virus and expecting people to abstain from sex indefinitely isn’t realistic,” he said.
“However, as infection rates are rising across the country, steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 should be factored into decision making when it comes to sex.”