COViD and The Lifestyle
Roadmap for easing of restrictions in England announced
In his statement to the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the government roadmap that outlines how lockdown restrictions will be eased in England. The roadmap is in four steps. Before proceeding to the next step, the Government will examine the data to assess the impact of previous steps.
This assessment will be based on four tests:
The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
Assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.
There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the data to reflect changes in restrictions; followed by seven days’ notice of the restrictions to be eased.
See below for a summary of the key points:
Step 3 – from 17 May at the earliest and at least five weeks after Step 2
Most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted, but gatherings of more than 30 people outdoors will remain illegal. Indoors, people will be able to meet socially in a group of 6, or with 1 other household (though it may be possible to go further than this at Step 3 depending on the data). COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and premises must not cater for groups larger than the legal limits.
Sectors which will reopen include:
Indoor hospitality, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcoholic drinks, and no curfew. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) will remain;
Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas;
Indoor entertainment, such as museums, cinemas and children’s play areas;
Remaining accommodation, such as hotels, hostels and B&Bs;
Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes; and
Some large events, including conferences, theatre and concert performances and sports events.
Controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted, as will outdoor events with a capacity of either 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower.
The Government will also make a special provision for large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.
In addition, pilots will run as part of the Events Research Programme to examine how such events can take place without the need for social distancing using other mitigations such as testing.
Weddings, receptions, funerals, and commemorative events including wakes can proceed with up to 30 attendees.
A broader range of stand-alone life events will also be permitted at this step, including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
Step 4 – from 21 June at the earliest, and at least five weeks after Step 3
With appropriate mitigations in place, by Step 4, the Government aims to remove all legal limits on social contact, reopen the remaining closed settings, including nightclubs and enable large events, including theatre performances, above the Step 3 capacity restrictions (subject to the outcome of the scientific Events Research Programme) and remove all limits on weddings and other life events, subject to the outcome of the scientific Events Research Programme.
Read the press release here.
In parallel to these steps, four formal reviews will also take place on the issues of:
Social distancing and face masks
The resumption of international travel – the global Travel Taskforce will report on 12 April with recommendations aimed at facilitating a return to international travel as soon as possible while still managing the risk from imported cases and variants of concern. Following that, the Government will determine when international travel should resume, which will be no earlier than 17 May.
COVID status certification to enable reopening of businesses, mindful of discrimination and privacy
The return of major events.
It is critical that everybody observes the following key behaviours:
HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).
What does that mean for us?
We can still play in the lifestyle, but we will have to change what we do a little. As we're a fully licensed recognised private members club who work alongside our local authorities, we can function within full legislation. As we're a licensed premises the legislation and guidelines released means we can operate within the law to offer a safe service for members. There will be no party nights or live music nights for a while to come yet, but lifestyle lovers can still socialise on a smaller scale. When social distancing measures relax, you can still see if another couple will want to explore further with you virtually and socially distanced. You can ask a single to join in on your adventures. You can create your own special unicorn bubble.
You can't be greedy anymore, but you can be selective! Think of it as no longer having a quick takeaway that leaves you wanting more, but rather indulging in a five course dinner that fully satisfies you! The lifestyle is going to become more relaxed and you'll savour experiences more, giving more opportunity to discover new pleasures with just a few people in your bubbles.
The hand sanitising and hand washing regimes that we've all become accustomed to will continue, but that's not a bad thing! The club has new lower capacity levels and will measure attendance levels, so it's vital that you tell us when you're coming by registering for opening hours as we'd hate to turn you away if we're full! We support the NHS Track and Trace system to keep our members safe.
The members bar downstairs (and outside!) will continue to be the centre of socialising, and members are reminded that they must remain within their group of no more than 6 people. If members wish to use the private rooms upstairs, they can book them at the bar to ensure everything is kept clean, safe and socially distanced, like hotel rooms, but with added kink! We've changed some aspects upstairs to make this possible for you, we hope you enjoy the new facilities.
It may sound like a like of things to take in, but we aim to operate in a way where you can have a relaxed drink, chat and possibly play without worry. Our recent trips to supermarkets have been too stressful, we want to provide a safe haven away from the rest of the world.
So, the way your club will operate will change to match how the lifestyle will need to evolve for the future; more intimate, more selective, more meaningful.
The acts associated with sexual intimacy can have as many variations and alternatives as the imagination can conceive. Instead of kissing and sexual intercourse, try mutual masturbation, cam and phone sexting, watching or reading erotica, watching your partner pleasure themselves, kink role play... there's so many new adventures to try!
What about starting a new relationship?
For those people who would like to start a new relationship, that should be considered carefully. All of us should be practicing social distancing at this time due to the pandemic, and dating does not comply with recommendations for social distancing. While this time is challenging, social distancing is of the utmost importance to keep you and your loved ones safe if you're going to expand your household bubble, now is the time to be selective!
Are any forms of intimacy and sex completely safe right now?
Six feet of separation required by social distancing may not entirely slow you down. Masturbation, phone/virtual sex with a partner who doesn’t live with you, and sex toys (used just by you) could play a big role in sexual intimacy, particularly in this moment. And if you’re not in the mood for sex and are wondering how anyone can engage in intimacy in this moment, that’s also normal. People have different psychological responses to stress. If living through a pandemic has dampened your sexual desire, it will return once life returns to normal.
If you do have a regular intimate partner, keep in mind that coronavirus is not the only issue that you should be concerned about. You should use contraception if you are not planning on conceiving, and you should use a condom to protect against sexually transmitted infections.
Sex with yourself, i.e. masturbation is excellent for your physical and mental well-being. 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. If you use a shared computer, phone or touch screen whilst masturbating please disinfect these devices thoroughly. The next safest partner is someone you live with. Sex can be a really great way to have fun, stay connected and relieve anxiety during this potentially stressful time, if:
you live with your sexual partner, you are both feeling well and you both consent to sex, and
you haven’t been exposed to COVID-19 and are not in the “at risk” group of having a severe illness with COVID-19.
However, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (these include a new persistent cough or fever of 37.7°C or above) you should self-isolate for 7 days to prevent further transmissions. If someone you live with or someone you have recently had sex with (within or outside of your household) has these symptoms then you need to self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolating means no physical contact – no hugging, kissing or sex, and have separate sleeping arrangements. Irrespective of symptoms, if you or a sexual partner has a medical condition that may lead to a more severe illness with COVID-19, you should avoid sex.
You should avoid close contact — including sex — with anyone outside your household. If you don’t live with your sexual partner, consider moving in to the same living space temporarily. Additional travel puts your friends, family and community at risk, so make a responsible choice. Video dates, phone sex, “sexting” or chat rooms may be options for you. Don’t share images or participate in recorded content if you don’t want to.
Kissing passes on COVID-19. Avoid kissing anyone who is not part of your household. If you are going to have sex, you can reduce the harm to yourself and your partners. Condoms can reduce contact with sperm (cum) or saliva (spit) especially during oral and anal sex.
Rimming (mouth on anus) is very likely to spread COVID-19 as the virus is present in faeces and can enter your mouth, so you should avoid it during this time. Washing before and after sex is essential. Wash your hands and sex toys with soap and warm water. Do not share sex toys during this time.
If you arrange to meet someone outside of your bubble for sex, you could be at risk of being charged for not observing social distancing. This could lead to a fine of £200. Everyone needs to be socially distancing at this time (keeping two metres away from others), handwashing for 20 seconds regularly and remembering to avoid touching your face. If you are going to have conventional sex, it should only be with someone who lives in the same household (your bubble) as you if you both have no symptoms of COVID-19. You can reduce the harm to yourself and your partners by:
Avoid kissing anyone who is not part of your household. Kissing passes on COVID-19.
Rimming (mouth on anus) is very likely to spread COVID-19 as the virus in faeces can enter your mouth so you should avoid it during this time.
Washing before and after sex is essential. Wash your hands and sex toys with soap and warm water. Do not share sex toys during this time.
References - BASHH, Harvard Publications, Gov.uk