Government advice on COVID-safe sex concerns Liberal MPs
Explicit details on how to stay COVID-safe while being intimate are being provided by the State Government on an official NSW Health website.
The erotic advice published on the "Play Safe" portal instructs people to take precautions with their bedroom activities, including wearing a mask, avoiding kissing and minimising numbers of sexual partners.
One article even suggests "mutual masturbation" as a way to prevent the COVID spread, despite indicating solo activities are the only "truly safe" method of intimacy during the pandemic.
Safe ways to "enjoy" the practice include staying "a minimum of 1.5 metres (apart) at all times".
"Consider wearing masks to minimise the risk of COVID-19 even further, or even take the fun online," the NSW Health advice states.
The salacious advice shocked Coalition MPs contacted by The Daily Telegraph on Thursday.
Of the "mutual masturbation" edict, one Minister speaking on the condition of anonymity said: "I think the public health officials providing this information have been following their own advice for years."
While the Northern Beaches remains in lockdown and Sydney is on edge about the risk of another outbreak, concerns were raised that providing safe sex advice during a pandemic is a misuse of NSW Health resources.
One Liberal was "gobsmacked" that the government was using taxpayer resources to "encroach" in people's bedrooms.
MPs also said the suggestions to "take the fun online" or embrace video chats could pose a heightened risk of someone having intimate content secretly recorded.
Multiple pages on the Play Safe website recommend virtual dating, sexting, or video chats, to avoid contact with others.
A spokesman for Acting Premier John Barilaro directed questions about the material to NSW Health.
One August missive said that while "solo sex" is safest during COVID, intimate activity with a partner you live with is "probably okay".
"Sadly, sex with someone outside of your household or bubble still carries risk and is not recommended due to the 1.5 metre physical distancing in place."
An October page providing advice on contact tracing also recommends downloading the trouble-plagued COVIDsafe app before dating to provide "another level of protection before heading off on a date".
Responding to questions from The Daily Telegraph about the material, chief health officer Kerry Chant said NSW Health has provided a lot of advice for young people about the pandemic including on how it relates to safe sex.
"We've incorporated COVID advice within the context about STIs … advice for young people," she said.
She said NSW Health has been able to leverage young people's interest in and concern about COVID to provide advice on broader sexual health.
State government information on a range of health issues has been tailored to address the risk of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The Play Safe portal also provides information about sexually transmitted diseases, relationships, and mental health.
"I'm very proud of the work that we've done with our partner agencies, and our young people network to inform some of the content on that website," Dr Chant said.
Originally published as Government advice on COVID-safe sex concerns Liberal MPs