The sweet, sticky aroma from a tub of popcorn wedged between your thighs as you smudge lips in the cinema. The tingle across your body when their arm cloaks your shoulders on the bus. The dancing of fingertips across the table over coffee. The tantalising intimacy of touching someone you fancy in public has never been more erotic and illicit than in the pandemic.
The Government has put big red tape in place to prevent you from partaking in almost every fun activity (festivals, holidays, lavish 100 plus people weddings etc.) involving anyone outside your household during the Covid-19 pandemic, to reduce the spread of the virus. And it makes sense. We all know by now that the virus passes on through respiratory droplets and close contact. For six months, we’ve sacrificed hugging friends and cuddling loved ones, resorting to virtual displays of affection to ‘flatten the curve’ of the infection rate. But one thing we’ve really struggled with is the policing of our sexual activities.
On June 2, Brits were banned from having sex with anyone outside of their own household under a new amendment to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 bill. ‘No person may, without reasonable excuse, stay overnight at any place other than the place where they are living,’ the Government stated in all too familiar party pooper fashion. Unfortunately, the ‘bonking ban’ didn’t qualify being sex-deprived and single in a pandemic as a reasonable enough excuse for a frisky fumble at a 'sleepover'. Overnight, one-night stands and ‘friends with benefits’ became as redundant as high fives and handshakes.
When lockdown restrictions began to ease at the end summer, with groups finally permitted to meet up in an outdoor space in groups of up to six people, it ushered in a new era of sexual liberation not seen since the 1960s. Couples infiltrated parks with a renewed, fervent impulse to coat each other in saliva. Legs and feet knotted together. Fingertips folded over skin-kissed torsos. Sweat trickled between upper lips.
Even the more virus cautious of the sexually frustrated relished in a good pecking, followed by immediately coating their hands in anti-bacterial gel. When you realise you’ve had more lip contact with a face mask than a human being this year, you need to remedy the situation, pronto.
In a time when social distancing is the norm, having a wildly public PDA with your ‘Significant Other’ feels thrilling and transgressive. It’s the ultimate two fingers up to the ominous threat of the virus and Boris Johnson’s ever evolving whiplash-restrictions that have near shattered all sense of normality. PDA might increase your risk of contracting the virus, but so too can a pop to the local supermarket, and we certainly know which cause we’d rather choose.
The renewed taboo of PDA might explain why so many celebrities have been seen skin-to-skin with their partners in recent weeks. Actress Katie Holmes has been sitting perched atop her new chef boyfriend, Emilia Vitolo Jr., at dinner and passionately double-hands-face-grabbing him in the streets of Manhattan. Model Kaia Gerber and actor Jacob Elordi have been photographed so glued to each other’s hands we’re concerned they might require medical assistance. Meanwhile, quarantine singing couple Camila Cabello and a shirtless Shawn Mendes have been unashamedly snogging on walks in Miami since March. Even the A-listers are swapping privacy for a good ‘pashing’ in public.
The pandemic has made many of us feel emotionally, physically and financially vulnerable, but it’s sparked joy in creating intimate bubbles. It’s forced us to be selective with whom we want to spend our time with, whom we cherish and whom we’d risk our health for just for the satisfaction of human touch. It’s enriched old and new romantic relationships and ignited a new sense of urgency and flirtation on the dating scene. We’ve all wasted enough time alone on the sofa watching Netflix to let the possibility of a kiss on a Tinder date pass us by.
With a national veto on licking anything or anyone in public (this is a real government warning) we’re grabbing any moment of PDA with the people we desire with as much intensity and lust as we can muster before a second lockdown potentially comes into force. Stigmas and shame surrounding sex have plagued society for far too long. The last thing we're going to do is let Covid-19 stop us enjoying the occasional primal pleasure in public.
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