'Don't date if you're sick': Canada's top doctor gives Canadians 'the talk'
OTTAWA -- As COVID-19 restrictions are eased across the country, some Canadians hoping to add a little more love to their lives may be wondering how to safely date -- and have sex.
So Canada's top doctor is giving Canadians "the talk." Yes, that talk. And she wants you to take things slow.
"I'm not a dating expert, but let's just say, just to be sensible, maybe start virtually," Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said during her Friday press conference.
She was responding to a question about how single Canadians can have sex safely during the pandemic — a question she said she's "never" gotten before.
"Like anything to do with social interactions in the sort of COVID-era, I think do[ing] everything to reduce your risk is the key," Tam said.
First off, she said Canadians need to assess their own risk — including whether they have underlying conditions, who they might be in contact with and whether those individuals are high risk.
"Don't date if you're sick," she said.
Tam also wants to make sure Canadians take their intimate encounters seriously, noting that they’d be entering into a "serious social contract" with the other person.
"Everyone knows COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets, so if you were, you know, kissing someone of course this is a potential route of transmission," Tam said.
Tam also wants to ensure that Canadians meet safely, preferably outdoors — and distanced from others.
She even suggested a date idea, adding that a distanced "picnic in the park" could work.
During such dates, Canadians will need to follow "all the different hygienic measures" that public health suggests, including frequent hand washing and not touching their face.
She also wants Canadians to try to be true to their partners. If you can’t have just one, try to keep the number low — because these people are now in your bubble, she said.
"Singular dating or smaller numbers is probably the wisest thing to do," she said, noting that this allows people to "know each other more" and therefore know the risk levels involved with any droplet-involved interactions.
"I don't know what else to say," Tam said. She closed by saying dating should be done "carefully, slowly like all other advice of reopening social and economic activities."
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed guidelines for having safe sex in a COVID-19 era, echoing a lot of Tam's advice. They say if you aren't feeling sick and have no symptoms of COVID-19, you can still have sex — but the usual precautions should be taken. Use protection, and keep getting tested.
It also lists a few extra COVID-era precautions, noting that "group sex" and "sexual positions with close face to face contact" should be avoided.
"If you have multiple sex partners or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting, or chat rooms may be options for you," the website notes.
CTVNews.ca also enlisted health experts to do a deep dive into sexual health questions during COVID-19. You can read that here.