However, the impact of physical distancing and other public health measures may be even more harmful for those who have been completely alone for months now.
As provinces begin to slowly reopen storefronts and other public spaces, some Canadians are wondering if they have the green light to start dating again.
“It’s an incredibly challenging time for all of us, and when we don’t have ready-made people within our bubble, it can be even more lonely,” B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a press conference last week.
“I would say now’s the time that we need to be careful.”
Colin Furness, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, agrees — dating someone new remains “dangerous terrain” right now.
“Applying current public health guidelines, I’d say that first (and subsequent) dates ought to be limited to an outdoor activity and be physically distanced,” Furness told Global News in an email.
“Advancing beyond that (with) physical closeness and intimate contact is a risky thing to do. It means you are effectively combining households.”
He anticipates that some people will do so against advice, but Furness warns that if you live in an area with high levels of local community spread, you could have a high risk of spreading COVID-19.
“If both parties have been careful about physical distancing, the risk would seem lower, but COVID-19 does spread asymptomatically and careful people can get sick, too,” he said.
Eleanor Fish, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto, says that for the time being, any first dates should be two metres apart. Whether it takes place indoors or outdoors will be up to the people on the date and their comfort levels.
“If the restrictions are lifted to allow gatherings of individuals beyond household units, then it will be at the discretion of individuals to find their comfort levels of where to gather,” Fish said.
“The key is two metres apart, whether indoors or outdoors.”
When it comes to kissing or having sex, Fish says you should be “confident” your partner is negative for the novel coronavirus.
“Until such time (as) there is widespread testing, (kissing and having sex with someone new) would be unwise,” Fish said.
Date ideas while staying at home
Whether you’re just getting to know someone or you’ve had a partner for years, there are many ways to date using technology while practising social distancing or self-isolation.
Toronto-based relationship expert Jess O’Reilly recommends watching the same movie or cooking the same meal and eating together over video chat.
If you’re in the early stages of a relationship, you can also send voice notes instead of text messages so you can hear each other’s voices.
“We will survive without kissing,” O’Reilly previously told Global News.
“We will have plenty of time in our lives to get to those things. It’s time to think about the greater good as opposed to instant and personal gratification.”
There’s not much evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through sex, Dr. Alon Vaisman, an infection control and infectious diseases physician at Toronto’s University Health Network, previously told Global News.
“It would be very unlikely because most respiratory viruses only can infect the respiratory tract, so it wouldn’t likely be secreted in the genital tract,” he said.
However, it is possible to catch the virus if you kiss someone who is infected, so to play it safe, O’Reilly recommends turning up the heat over video chat.
“Video sex can feel extremely intimidating for people,” O’Reilly said. “Maybe you just talk about what you want to do. Maybe you do something in the dark. Maybe you take turns with it.“
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
— With files from Global News’ Amanda Pope
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.