Here's What Canada & Quebec Have To Say About Sex During The Pandemic

The latest advice and rules from the federal and provincial governments.
Senior Editor
Here's What Canada & Quebec Have To Say About Sex During The Pandemic

As we approach the one-year anniversary of health restrictions in Canada and many people continue to limit their physical contact with others, it's worth revisiting the federal and provincial governments' rules and advice for sex during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governments began issuing COVID-19 sexual health recommendations in the spring but have continued to update them.

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Social distancing orders and bans on gatherings have made sexual relations tricky in some situations.

The federal government, for example, calls kissing a "high-risk activity" because "COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets."

The novel coronavirus has also "been detected in some body fluids such as blood, semen and stool," the Government of Quebec says. But "the possibility of transmission through these body fluids remains uncertain."

Complicating the matter is the fact that different governments have issued different recommendations for sexual activity.

While British Columbia has suggested glory holes as a possibly safer sex practice during the pandemic, Quebec decidedly has not.

To help you begin to navigate the rules and advice from the federal and provincial governments, outlines of their current statements on sex during COVID-19 are below.

The most up-to-date information can always be found online and the best advice always comes from health professionals. 

What does Quebec have to say about sex during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Quebec first released its sexual health recommendations for the pandemic in the spring and last updated the page in September.

The government says that people who live at the same address are free to have sexual contact so long as neither is self-isolating. 

With sexual partners at another address, Quebec says residents "must" follow its regular health recommendations.

However, during the lockdown period between January 9 and February 8, Quebecers are not allowed to receive visitors from another address.

The only exception is for people living alone, who are allowed to designate a single visitor from another address. This single visitor must be the same person for the duration of the lockdown period.

Partners are further asked to "use their [judgment]" before visiting each other, taking into consideration their work conditions and making sure, for example, that they both regularly follow all the health rules (handwashing, mask-wearing, social-distancing, etc.) and don't have COVID-19 symptoms.

As for a hook-up with an anonymous partner, the government doesn't explicitly recommend against it, but does state that "having anonymous partners or partners whose personal information is unknown can prevent public health authorities from ensuring proper follow-up in the event of infection with COVID‑19."

Finally, Quebec underlines that preventing the spread of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) is "especially important" during the pandemic. It recommends the use of condoms or dental dams.

The government also suggests "telephone calls or virtual dates" as alternatives to physical sexual contact.

What does the federal government say about sex during COVID-19?

The federal government warns that "sexual activity with partners outside of your small, consistent and trusted contact bubble increases your risk of getting or spreading COVID-19" and recommends taking further precautions in such situations.

These include "[monitoring] yourself for COVID-19 symptoms," "[limiting] the use of alcohol and other substances so you and a partner are able to make safe decisions," "[avoiding] kissing and face-to-face contact or closeness," and even "wearing a non-medical mask that covers your nose and mouth."

Canada's page on sexual health during the pandemic further points residents toward additional recommendations from the Sex Information & Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN).

SIECCAN highlights masturbation as an activity that's "low risk for COVID-19" and potentially beneficial for stress relief.

The Council recommends "[washing] your hands and any sex toys you use before and after masturbation for at least 20 seconds with soap and water." 

For partners who live at the same address, SIECANN emphasizes that as the stress of the pandemic potentially affects individuals' interest in sexual activity: "Communication about sexuality can be important to maintain and enhance intimacy within a relationship."

As for sex between individuals who do not live at the same address, SIECANN also suggests non-physical alternatives like phone sex and virtual dates.

Like Quebec, the Council underlines the importance of safe sex during the pandemic, warning that "access to health care for both the testing as well as the treatment of newly acquired STIs may be limited."

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