Is it illegal to hook up and have casual sex under latest Covid-19 rules? Here's what we know

Sex in the age of coronavirus can be a confusing business.


In England, sex in the age of Coronavirus just took one step forward, two steps back in terms of clarity.

While sex with someone outside of your household was technically illegal under previous regulations - even if you were married! - recently-updated guidelines have relaxed the rules.

But, there's one crucial caveat: you must be in an 'established relationship' to benefit... a confounding term we'll come back to in a minute.

What are the rules around having sex?

Government guidance on 'Meeting with others safely (social distancing)' in England - from weddings and funerals to the 'rule of six' - is available to read here in a constantly-updating document.

But the doc in question makes no specific reference to sex.

One relevant section states: "You do not need to socially distance from anyone in your household, meaning the people you live with. You also do not need to socially distance from someone you’re in an established relationship with, or anyone in your legally-permitted support bubble if you are in one."

These guidelines are of course subject to change depending on local restrictions and where you are in the UK/the world.

It's a confusing time for lovers of casual sex (Pictures: Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto)

What exactly is an "established relationship"?

Beats us. We've shot inquiries over to the Cabinet Office and Department of Health and Social Care to ask for a clear definition. But whether it's inclusive of alternative/unconventional (read: non-heteronormative) relationships remains to be seen.

Do long-standing friends with benefits constitute an 'established relationship', for example? What if you have rather a few 'established relationships'? Are those in multi-household, polyamorous relationships accommodated by the term? And a scenario almost everyone's been in: what about someone you've recently started dating? Or someone you've built an online relationship with, but haven't met in person yet?

How do other social distancing rules affect LGBTQs?

One direct reference to LGBTQ people in the government's social distancing doc concerns support groups of up to 15 people - one of the few exemptions where groups of more than six can currently meet up.

At the time of writing, the guidance states that "support groups of up to 15 participants – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes support to victims of crime, recovering addicts, new parents, people with long-term illnesses, those facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement."

What else do I need to know?

This piece of guidance on indoor personal interactions is also arcane - "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)" -  but, if you're going to have casual sex, wearing a mask and opening a window surely can't hurt...

For more coronavirus guidance and support click here.