COVID-19 is real. And while it is not a sexually transmitted infection, the virus, which has been ruled a pandemic by the World Health Organization, is certainly communicable. And it's something that impacts sex lives -- and specifically queer sex lives and hook-up culture.
As the country progresses into quarantines, whether self-instructed or mandated by government officials, people have increasingly begun discussing what exactly that means in terms of sex. Some apps like Grindr and Lex have posted notices warning users of spreading the virus but many stopped short of telling anyone to stop hooking up. Now, the NYC Health Department has weighed in.
"All New Yorkers should stay home and minimize contact with others to reduce the spread of COVID-19," the agency wrote in a white paper dated March 19, 2020. Though it was once on the Health Department's website it's not accessible now -- some believe this is because traffic caused the page to crash. But while the overall advice is to minimize contact, the paper does explain some ways to still engage in a bit of sexual relief.
"You are your safest sex partner," the note explains. It's been said before that masturbation is some of the safest sex you can have, and that extends to avoiding COVID-19. It's even safer if you wash your hands and sex toys with soap and water before and after.
But if masturbation isn't enough, "the next safest partner is someone you live with." Keep it within the quarantine. If you're quarantining with people, you're already exposed to them and are in close contact.
Outside of the quarantine though, hookups are out. People really shouldn't be going over to someone else's place to get together. The more one is outside and in different environments, the more exposure there is for either contracting or spreading the virus -- whether someone knows they have it or not. Going out every night -- or every other night for that matter -- to meet up with a different person or a different group of people to chat or even to have sex is not social distancing. The point is to limit your in-person social interactions to just a few.
This doesn't mean there aren't ways to get off with someone else. the Department of Health advises "video dates, sexting, or chat rooms."
As for transmitting the virus, the Health Department emphasizes that "kissing can easily pass COVID-19." The virus has also been found in feces. This means that rimming is also something to table at this time. Showering and hand-washing as well as sanitizing anything you may have touched while having sex (or masturbating) is also important.
And yes, group sex is officially completely off-limits at this juncture.