The New York City Health Department recently issued guidelines on “how to enjoy sex and to avoid spreading COVID-19.”
Their recommendations mostly involve staying at home. But here are some of the details.
“You are your safest sex partner,” the guidelines read. “Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.”
They recommend against having sex with anyone outside of your household.
“You should avoid close contact — including sex — with anyone outside your household. If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible,” the guidelines continue. “If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting or chat rooms may be options for you.”
But if you do have sex, please wash your hands with soap — for the obligatory 20 seconds. Also, wash your sex toys, too.
The health department isn’t the only one suggesting a break from casual sex encounters. Two popular gay dating apps, Grindr and Scruff, sent messages to their users recommending against in-person encounters for the time being.
“The best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus and protect the community is to stay home and avoid meeting up in-person. In some places this is a requirement, but it’s a good idea for everyone,” Grindr wrote. They also suggested that this might be a good time to masturbate and did their best to put a positive spin on the situation. “Staying safe at home can still be sexy. You are your own best sex partner, so take some time to practice self-care.”
Scruff sent a similar message to its users: “we ask our community to limit connections to online, rather than in-person.”
The NYC guidelines go on to say kissing easily transmits COVID-19 while condoms may reduce exposure to saliva.
David Lauterstein, CEO of Nasty Pig, an online retailer that specializes in gay fetish gear, sent a letter to customers Friday to reassure them while also encouraging them to stay away from sex.
“One thing I suspect a lot of you guys are grappling with is isolation. I’m sure many of you find yourselves weighing the risks and rewards of hooking up right now. I am here to tell you that this is a very normal reaction,” Lauterstein wrote. “As someone who lived through the AIDS crisis, I was one of many people experiencing condom fatigue back then. We got sick of not being able to connect with each other the way we truly wanted to and speaking out about it to friends and strangers was met with plenty of judgment. I am not here to judge you but I am here to urge you to read and follow the guidelines [...] about sexual contact right now. This is what the experts are saying.”
Nasty Pig is headquartered in New York City, which is the epicenter, for now, of the coronavirus outbreak. Lauterstein wrote a similar letter to customers March 15 reassuring them and encouraging them to hang in there.
“I feel it is my responsibility not to tell you to keep shopping, but to tell you that we will get through this. Humans are a resilient species, especially gay people,” he wrote. “In fact we are the strongest motherfuckers I know. Centuries of overcoming persecution are fused into our collective DNA and we have a long history of surviving despite much greater challenges than this. TRUST!”