Lonely singletons advised to find sex buddy to reduce spread of COVID-19

The Dutch government has issued guidance on intimacy during the coronavirus lockdown which advises having sex only with regular partners – or for singletons, only one person.

A young Israeli man walks down the stairs to his apartment  the Florentin neighborhood of Tel Aviv (photo credit: DANIELLE SHITRIT/FLASH90)
A young Israeli man walks down the stairs to his apartment the Florentin neighborhood of Tel Aviv
(photo credit: DANIELLE SHITRIT/FLASH90)
Dutch singletons who want some intimacy with a partner during the lockdown should find a sex buddy to limit contact between people, the Dutch government has suggested.
Advice issued by The Netherlands' National Institute for Health and Environment, a department of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, titled "Coronavirus and sexuality" has laid out guidelines for people craving close contact with another person while under the social distancing regulations brought in to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The pointers cover both single people and those in a long-term relationship.
"As a single you also want to have physical contact," the guide acknowledges before warning of the need to "minimize the risk of the coronavirus during intimacy and sex." Singletons are advised to discuss with potential partners the best way to do this, bearing in mind the rules surrounding the virus. 
Highlighting the need to "be aware of all physical and sexual contact," adults with regular partners are told that they may have sex, if both partners want it, since "after all, you are already very close and it is practically impossible to avoid each other physically."
However, if either partner has been isolated due to suspected coronavirus infection, the couple should abstain. "Sex with yourself or with others at a distance is possible (think of telling erotic stories, masturbating together)," the advice sheet suggests.
The guidelines to both link through to further advice issued by SOAIDS Netherlands, a government-funded organization which issues advice on how to avoid or manage STDs.
"Everyone in the Netherlands is asked to keep 1.5 meters apart. So our advice is not to have sex. Except with your regular partner," the organization says, although it goes on to point out that the chance of transmitting coronavirus is lowered if one keeps 1.5 meters away from their partner, or roughly two arm lengths. Instead, the site advises to indulge in other erotic pursuits in a more isolated fashion, such as sexting either one to one via the telephone, or in a group via Skype, Zoom or Teams.
Watching porn and performing a striptease are also on the suggestion list, as is masturbating with another while keeping 1.5 meters away, but the organization suggests not having sex with anyone other than a regular partner, reminding readers: "Since 23 March 2020 no more than three people can get together if they don’t live together in one home. So there can be no group sex. Dark rooms and gay saunas are closed."
A separate advice sheet published by the sexual education site Rutgers, also linked to via the government's website, is a little more lenient.
No intimacy can be difficult, especially in the longer term," Rutgers admits, continuing: "This applies to all close physical contact. Do you find it really difficult to stick to the advice? Then the advice is to only be intimate with one person you already know and where you can trust that person to adhere to the corona rules. That way you still limit contacts and your circle with intimates. The fewer people that are close to you, the less likely you or your (sex) partner will get or pass on corona."
The main thing, Rutgers says, is not to be intimate with anyone if you have come into contact with someone who could have coronavirus, and to wash hands before and after sex. 
There is evidence that feelings of loneliness have increased significantly during the lockdown period, which may drive people to seek out intimacy. Britain's Mental Health Foundation cites a study of UK adults which found that in early April, 24% of respondents reported feelings of loneliness in the previous two weeks, up from one in ten when the same question was asked shortly before lockdown. Young people aged 18 to 24 were most likely to feel lonely - 44% in that age bracket reported feelings of loneliness during the lockdown.
Long term loneliness can lead to an increased risk of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and increased stress, the foundation warned.