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BC government recommends 'glory holes' for COVID safety

In an effort to help British Columbians navigate intimacy in the time of coronavirus, the BC Centre for Disease Control has issued safe sex guidelines that recommend use of "glory holes."
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY

In an effort to help British Columbians navigate intimacy in the time of coronavirus, the BC Centre for Disease Control has issued safe sex guidelines that recommend use of "glory holes."

Under the heading "steps to protect yourself during sex," they write "Use barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact."

A "glory hole" is defined as 1) "An untidy storage place, especially a room or cupboard." 2) "A small furnace used to keep glass malleable so that it can be worked."

But it is undoubtedly the informal definition that the BC Centre for Disease Control was referencing: "A hole in a wall through which fellatio or masturbation is conducted incognito."

The rest of the safe sex primer addresses other ways of engaging in intimacy, such as "sexting," "online chat rooms and group cam rooms," both of which, BC notes, have no chance of spreading the virus. If you're concerned about safety, the guidelines say that when camming, you don't have to show your face.

The guidelines stop short of recommending monogamy, saying instead that "having [one], or a few, regular sex partner(s) can help lower the chances of being exposed to COVID-19." If you're concerned, you can wear a mask during sex and be socially distanced. If any of your sex partners are at higher risk of infection, this would be something that BC recommends you discuss with all your sex partners.

BC suggests that face masks be worn throughout a sexual encounter, as "heavy breaking during sex can create more droplets that may transmit COVID-19." They go on to advocate for that people "avoid or limit kissing and saliva exchange," as well as to "choose sexual positions that limit face-to-face contact."

This advice comes as part of BC's safety guidelines, which also has sections on hand washing, physical distancing, masks, travel, and food safety. The section called "COVID-19 and sex" finds BC recommending having sex with as little intimacy, accountability, or connection as possible.

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