Matt Hancock awkwardly bans casual hook-ups while clarifying rules on sex under new coronavirus restrictions

British Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock. (Screen capture via Twitter)

Britons who are not in an “established relationship” will be unable to have casual sex under new coronavirus restrictions, health secretary Matt Hancock awkwardly said Thursday morning (24 September), and the sound you hear is a thousand queer men deleting Grindr all at the same time.

After all, using Grindr just for emotional connections? Don’t make us laugh.

As England braces for a new raft of restrictions amid rocketing coronavirus rates, Hancock was quizzed by Sky News‘ Kay Burley about the so-called “casual sex ban”.

It comes after the government updated guidelines last week to say that people in “established relationships” – whatever the department of health means by that – do not need to socially distance, suggesting they can sleep with one another if they were in the same home.

Matt Hancock between giggles sort of, but not really, explains what an ‘established relationship’ means. 

The pair whispered, laughed and struggled to keep a straight face as Burley attempted to laser in on exactly what an “established relationship” means.

It’s reassuring to know that a high-ranking government minister blushes red when discussing casual sex, but defends homophobes such as Tony Abbott with a smile.

Hancock said: “In these rules that we have to bring in, there have to be boundaries, to coin a phrase.

“If you’re saying that two households shouldn’t mix, which we are in some parts of the country – in the North East, the North West, in Scotland, in parts of Wales – then you have to then define what is the boundary of that.”

Burley began to joke about what precisely “established” means – “If I say, ‘I love you’?” – considering that the department’s own advice simply specifies that those in the “early stages of a relationship” should take extra precautions when it comes to social distancing.

Hancock added: “I think we should stick to the letter of it, which is it is OK in an established relationship.

“It just means that people need to be careful, they need to be sensible.

“If you’re in a relationship that is well established, what it means is people realising that coming into close contact with people from other households, then that is how the virus spreads.”

Public health officials have grappled with drawing up guidelines when it comes to sex amid the pandemic, acknowledging the importance of human touch during a moment of cratering mental health.

While some health agencies have been more skittish than others, some have more frankly suggested people who do not have a committed sex partner throw on their face masks and hit the local glory hole or well-ventilated, uh, outside space to have safe sex.

Overall, however, most stress the importance of minimising close-contact with others.