The closure of bars and restaurants across the country has made dinner dates impossible, and strict social distancing rules mean any chance of getting a kiss at the end has been thrown out the window.
So how do you date in the era of COVID-19?
And if you’re already in a relationship but don’t live together, can you see each other?
Are loved-up couples doomed to endure months of distance, even if they only live a few kilometres away?
The new rules aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus have raised important questions about love, sex and relationships, and there is still a lot of confusion about what you can and can’t do.
Can I visit my partner if we live in separate houses?
It depends where you live.
Different states and territories are enforcing their own rules about what constitutes an adequate reason to leave home.
In Victoria, visiting your partner was not one of them – until Premier Daniel Andrews reportedly had a change of heart on Wednesday afternoon.
Regarding ‘Stay at Home’ rules: We have no desire to penalise individuals who are staying with or meeting their partners if they don’t usually reside together. We’ll be making an exemption. Hope that helps.
— Chief Health Officer, Victoria (@VictorianCHO) April 1, 2020
Prior to the backflip, visiting a de facto partner who lived in a separate household was not considered a reasonable excuse to leave the house.
A ban on visiting partners was also understood to exist in NSW, but on Wednesday morning, NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller indicated that it would be allowed.
“I would put that under ‘care’, absolutely. Mental health, we get it that’s under ‘care’,” he said in response to a reporter’s question.
In NSW and Victoria, you must stay home unless you are going to:
- School or an educational institution
- Shop for food and essentials
- Get medical supplies or provide care
You may also leave your home in an emergency or if required by law.
In Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory, you can visit a partner.
In Queensland, you can leave home to provide care to an “immediate member of the person’s family”, but there is no provision for leaving to care for anyone else.
This seems to imply you cannot visit a partner unless you’re married to them.
In Western Australia and the ACT, the rules are not clear.
However, WA has restrictions on regional travel, meaning you cannot visit a partner if they live in a different region.
Under nationwide rules, two people are allowed to exercise together.
The latest advice from the federal health department is that it is OK to visit your partner as long as you are the only guest visiting at that time.
A government spokesperson confirmed to The New Daily that the rule for partners is the same as the two-person limit on social gatherings.
For example, if you want to visit your partner but their housemate already has a friend over, you cannot join them.
And you must abide by social distancing rules that require you stand at least 1.5 metres apart from each other.
In other words: Look, but don’t touch.
It’s not exactly conducive to romance, but it is better than not seeing them at all.
Weighing up the risks
Before you make plans to head over, ask yourself: If one of you infects the other with the virus, was it worth it?
If either of you is feeling sick, or has come into contact with a confirmed case or who is deemed high risk, you should definitely not visit.
And if one of you has recently returned from overseas, stay away.
The federal government has made it clear that you should stay inside your home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out.
Long distance is the safest option if you don’t live together.
You’re not alone either: Couples in countries like the United Kingdom or Italy, where the coronavirus has killed thousands, are living separately.
It’s not worth spreading the virus.
Can I have sex with my partner if we live together?
Right now, there is no evidence that shows the coronavirus can be sexually transmitted.
If you and your partner are healthy and regularly wash your hands and disinfect your house while practising social distancing from other people, it should be OK to have sex.
How do singles date in the time of the coronavirus?
Courtship is making a comeback, though it looks a lot more Black Mirror than Jane Austen.
Dating should be kept online or over the phone.
But some people aren’t getting the message.
Melbourne woman Kate, 32, told The New Daily she has been shocked by the number of men on dating apps seeking to meet in person “despite being in the middle of a pandemic”.
“You’d think at a time like this people wouldn’t be ignoring the social distancing rules, but obviously there are a bunch of people who don’t care,” she said.
“One guy messaged me on Monday night saying ‘Let’s have sex before we die’, and I was like, ‘Excuse me?'”
Kate said another man eager to meet in person tried to assure her that he was a doctor and therefore had his “temperature checked every day” so he knew he “wasn’t sick”.
“It’s this attitude of ‘It won’t affect me and I’m not responsible’,” she said.
Instead of meeting in person, Kate said she’d prefer to get to know people online or over the phone or video calls until the social distancing restrictions are officially lifted.
“My parents did a long-distance relationship where they wrote letters to each other before they got married, so it’s nice to actually talk to someone and get to know them,” she laughed.
Her advice from one single to another?
“Think about your health first,” she said.
“If someone is offering a hook-up without asking what you’re comfortable with, then it’s probably someone who is not very safe with their own health or sexual health in general, so it’s not worth it.”
My friend is going on a 1st date tonight with a girl he's been talking to on Tinder. They're going to park next to each other at McDonald's and talk with the windows cracked while eating their own individual orders of fries. How's that for romance and longing, JANE AUSTEN?
— dave horwitz (@Dave_Horwitz) March 25, 2020
Professor Bruce Thompson, dean of health sciences at Swinburne University, said now was not the time for dating.
He warned young people should not ignore social distancing rules just because the chances of them dying from COVID-19 are lower than an elderly person or someone with a pre-existing health condition.
“If you’re in your 20s, you could still land yourself with severe pneumonia and potentially hospitalisation, and there are cases where young people have died from it,” Professor Thompson said.
“What would also concern me is if you’ve got the virus and you could potentially be spreading it to others.
“I don’t think any date is quite worth that.”