The Dutch government has issued new guidance to single people seeking intimacy during the pandemic, advising them to find a “sex buddy”.
The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) says singletons should come to an arrangement with one other person.
But pairings should avoid sex if one of them suspects they have coronavirus, the advice says.
The guidance comes after critics said there was no sex advice for singles.
Social-distancing measures have been in place in the Netherlands since 23 March, when the government imposed what it called an “intelligent” or “targeted” lockdown.
The rules were far less strict than those of the country’s neighbours, permitting small gatherings of people if social distancing was observed.
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But in guidance published on 14 May, the RIVM said “it makes sense that as a single [person] you also want to have physical contact” during the pandemic.
Should singletons choose to engage in sexual contact, precautions should be taken to minimise the risk of coronavirus exposure, the authority said.
“Discuss how best to do this together,” the RIVM guidance says. “For example, meet with the same person to have physical or sexual contact (for example, a cuddle buddy or ‘sex buddy’), provided you are free of illness.
“Make good arrangements with this person about how many other people you both see. The more people you see, the greater the chance of (spreading) the coronavirus.”
The RIVM has also issued advice for people whose long-term partners suspect they have contracted the coronavirus.
“Don’t have sex with your partner if they have been isolated because of (suspected) coronavirus infection,” it says.
“Sex with yourself or with others at a distance is possible,” it adds, suggesting “erotic stories” and “masturbating together” as possible solutions.
On Monday, the Netherlands began the first stage of a five-phase lockdown exit plan.
As part of the first phase, libraries, hairdressers, nail bars, beauticians, massage salons and places providing occupational therapy were allowed to reopen from 11 May.
The relaxation of restrictions came after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the country had made “headway” in its effort to bring the number of coronavirus infections and deaths down.
A further 200 infections and 53 deaths were recorded in the Netherlands in the past 24 hours. In total, 43,880 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the country so far, with more than 5,500 deaths.