Glory holes could play a small role in the fight against COVID-19 in Canada, according to official government advice.
Politicians across Canada have encouraged people to adapt their daily behaviours to limit contagion since the coronavirus pandemic’s onset, with questions looming large around what safe sex should look like while COVID-19 continues to pose a threat.
Many experts have said the safest way to have sex right now is to limit face-to-face contact and avoid sharing saliva and other bodily fluids. In addition to standard safe sex tools—condoms, dental dams, and lubricants—British Columbia Centre of Disease Control best practices now suggest wearing a face mask and using barriers or walls—specifically, glory holes—during sex.
Glory holes are small holes cut into partitions that allow people to engage in penetrative and oral sex with little skin-to-skin contact outside of the areas of sexual contact.
“Use barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact,” the BCCDC site says.
Jane Campbell, a BCCDC spokesperson, said the recommendations were adapted from the New York City health department guidelines.
New York encourages people to “make it a little kinky” by getting creative with positions through the use of “physical barriers, like walls” in their new COVID-19-specific sex guidelines, but stops short of referencing glory holes directly.
“The recommendations acknowledge that sex is important for a person’s mental, social, and physical wellbeing and offer strategies to help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Campbell said. “During the pandemic, people are continuing—and should continue—to have sex.”
While glory holes are strangely absent from guidelines elsewhere, other Canadian provinces and cities have also published pro tips for safe sex, with Alberta and Toronto endorsing sexting and video and phone sex. Masturbation has also been listed as a safe way to engage in intimacy.
“The safest sex partner is yourself,” an Alberta Health Services tip sheet says. “Masturbation in a private setting can also be a good source of comfort in this time of stress.”
People are also urged to check in with sexual partners about whether they’re experiencing symptoms. Showers before and after sex are also recommended, and all toys should be washed thoroughly with soap and water before and after use, according to the BCCDC.
VICE News reached out to B.C.’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, for comment. You’re welcome, Kai.
Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.