Coronavirus: Health agencies offer tips on sex during the pandemic

A couple holding hands and walking along Bartley Road on July 5, 2017.
A couple holding hands and walking along Bartley Road on July 5, 2017.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - As countries around the world slowly begin to come back to life, governments are experimenting with exactly how prescriptive they should be when giving guidelines on how people should navigate the new normal - including on sex and dating.

It has involved some trial and error.

In the Netherlands, Dutch officials relaxed the government's rules on sex during the coronavirus pandemic, advising last week that locked-down singles find "sex buddies".

Acknowledging that human touch is important, the guidance said the two parties must be in strict agreement about limiting the spread of the virus.

Officials at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands later clarified that advice, however, removing the term "seksbuddy" from the website after it drew attention from the international news media.

A spokeswoman for the agency told the Dutch news website that the advice did not encourage "random sex contacts".

Different cities and countries have taken varying approaches to guidance on sex during the pandemic, with some more skittish than others.

In Denmark, the country's health chief gave his blessing to even casual sexual encounters throughout the pandemic.

"Sex is good. Sex is healthy," Dr Soren Brostrom, director general of the Danish Health Authority, said in April, according to The Local DK, an English-language news site.


In New York, Los Angeles and other US cities, however, officials recommended masturbation, and suggested avoiding sexual contact with people in other households.

"You are your safest sex partner," according to guidelines in New York and Los Angeles.

San Francisco officials recommended "limiting sex to your main partner(s)".

In Washington, the mayor's office told residents that having sex with a live-in partner was OK, so long as they first check to make sure their partner is also feeling well.

Oregon went further. In a detailed poster, the Oregon Health Authority offered graphics to go with its suggestions.


"Avoid kissing anyone who is not part of your small circle of close contacts," the notice said.

Health officials also encouraged partners to consider sexting and web chat platforms for remote sex.