COViD and The Lifestyle
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).
From July 19th, the Government will remove outstanding legal restrictions on social contact, life events, and open the remaining closed settings. The Government will instead enable people to make informed decisions about how to manage the risk to themselves and others. The Government will provide guidance to the public and to businesses on how they can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the risk of a resurgence which puts the NHS under unsustainable pressure.
All remaining limits on social contact (currently 6 people or 2 households indoors, or 30 people outdoors) will be removed and there will be no more restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors or outdoors.
All settings will be able to open, including nightclubs. Large events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements.
All restrictions on life events such as weddings, funerals, bar/bat mitzvahs and baptisms will be removed, including the remaining restrictions on the number of attendees. There will be no requirement for table service at life events, or restrictions on singing or dancing.
COVID-status certification will not be required in law as a condition of entry for visitors to any setting. Organisations are already able to ask visitors for proof of COVID-status, as long as they meet existing legal obligations including under equality law. The Government is providing a way for individuals to easily demonstrate their COVID-status. This can be achieved by completion of a full vaccine course, a recent negative test, or proof of natural immunity - through the NHS COVID Pass on the NHS app.
The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, published guidance will advise that wearing a face covering will reduce your risk and the risk to others, where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.
Social distancing rules (2 metres or 1 metre with additional mitigations) will be lifted. You should continue to consider the risks of close contact with others, particularly if you are clinically extremely vulnerable or not yet fully vaccinated. Social distancing will only be required in limited circumstances: ports of entry for passengers between disembarkation and border control in order to manage the risk of Variants of Concern being transmitted between individuals; and people who are self-isolating should also continue to socially distance from others, particularly where they have had a positive test. Health and care settings will continue to maintain appropriate infection prevention and control processes as necessary and this will be continually reviewed. Guidance will be updated based on the latest clinical evidence this summer.
For individual settings where the risks of rapid spread are particularly acute, Directors of Public Health, in consultation with setting operators and relevant departments, will be able to advise that social distancing is put in place if necessary to control outbreaks. This should be targeted, time limited, and apply to settings characterised by enclosed and vulnerable communities such as prisons, immigration removal centres and homeless shelters.
It is no longer necessary for Government to instruct people to work from home. Employers can start to plan a return to workplaces.
Regulations that place COVID-secure requirements on businesses, including table service, and distancing between tables, will be lifted. ‘Working Safely’ guidance will be updated to provide examples of sensible precautions that employers can take to reduce risk in their workplaces. Employers should take account of this guidance in preparing the risk assessments they are already required to make under pre-pandemic health and safety rules.
Businesses must not require a self-isolating worker to come to work, and should make sure that workers and customers who feel unwell do not attend the setting.
Businesses will be encouraged to ask staff and customers to clean their hands regularly and clean surfaces that people touch regularly. The Government will provide guidance on how businesses can reduce unnecessary contact in the workplace, where it is practical. Operators will still be encouraged to use outside space where practical, and to consider the supply of fresh air to indoor spaces. Carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors could be used to help identify where a space is poorly ventilated with businesses encouraged to take steps to improve ventilation if CO2 readings are consistently high.
Businesses will be encouraged to display QR codes for customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, to support NHS Test and Trace, although it will no longer be a legal requirement.
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. 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.
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