COVID-19 Update: Casual Sex and Sex On Premises Venues

  • Sex on Premises Venues (SOPV) in NSW have started to reopen. These venues, with the support of ACON and NSW Health, need to have a plan in place to minimise the chances of transmission of COVID-19. The NSW Government SOPV Covid-19 Safety Plan is available here
  • If you do decide to visit SOPVs, please check that they have a COVID Safe Plan in place before you visit and remember to take precautions to stay as safe as possible by adhering to COVID Safe guidelines and instructions provided by the venue.

Recently, NSW Health have supported the opening of sex-on-premises venues (SOPV) in New South Wales, provided they have a plan in place that minimises the risk of transmission of coronavirus and protects the safety of clients.

We know these venues are important social spaces to many members of our communities. ACON is working closely with operators, as we have done over many years in relation to HIV and sexual transmission, to ensure they remain as safe as possible; this now also means minimising the risks associated with COVID-19 infection. Each venue will be required to complete and display their COVID Safe plan in their venues.

While the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to not engage in casual sex, there are ways to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus for those who choose to visit SOPVs and engage in casual sex.

People using these venues should see visible changes like hand soap or sanitiser being available in public areas, regular cleaning of facilities and chill out spaces marked to provide guidance on social distancing. Community members should also be aware of venue policies and the NSW Government COVID-19 Safety Plan requiring you to provide your name and contact details. This is an important and necessary step to assist in contact tracing efforts in the event of a COVID-19 infection. The contact information will be stored confidentially and securely and will only be used for the purpose of COVID-19 contact tracing.

While COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted infection, physical intimacy with people carries a high risk of transmission. The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine has released guidelines for health practitioners to share with patients about risk reduction. Based on this advice, we suggest the following other actions you can take to reduce transmissions during casual sex, including:

  • Reduce the number of people you have sex with
  • Where possible and practicable, share contact information with partners to make contact tracing easier
  • Engage in sex that eliminates or reduces touching (mutual masturbation, cybersex)
  • Avoid casual sex if you or your sexual partner(s) are unwell, especially if symptoms of COVID-19 are present (sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny or blocked nose, headache, loss of smell or taste, diarrhoea, muscle aches and pains)
  • Get tested if you have any of the symptoms listed here
  • Have a shower using soap before and after sex
  • Avoid positions or activities that involve extended face to face contact and saliva exchange (such as kissing)
  • Avoid sharing objects or toys, and ensure they are cleaned between uses
  • Use barriers such as condoms to reduce fluids being shared
  • Limit your encounters to shorter timeframes
  • Where possible develop small and trusted networks for casual sex, preferably with close contacts and avoid group sex

It is undeniable that many of us have missed each other’s company in many ways and that our communities have risen to the call to remain physically distant in a variety of ways. The places we gather, whether they be bars, bookshops, backrooms or balconies are now starting to reopen and a level of vibrancy and excitement for life is returning. However, we are not yet done with COVID-19 and its implications on our communities, so our collective, continued vigilance and respect are needed to see us through to the other side.

ACON thanks all of our community members, SOPV venue staff and management, for their ongoing commitment to easing the burden of COVID-19 in our communities and the wider community. We continue to monitor health advice and changes in regulations and recommendations around the health of our communities as we collectively deal with COVID-19 and will update our communities as circumstances and advice changes.

As always, if you are experiencing distress during this time, ACON provides confidential counselling and mental health support. Contact ACON on (02) 9206 2000.

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