I was single during the first lockdown in the Spring of 2020 – so sex-starved I even WhatsApped my friends to ask if it was just me who was crushing on Chris Whitty. So it’s a relief to learn, from Matt Hancock’s leaked WhatsApp messages, that Whitty knew the sex ban wouldn’t be taken seriously. A scientist knows that taking sex off the menu was never going to work.
For the first lockdown, many people tried their best to stick to the rules. I know of non-cohabitating couples who would meet and socially distance outside… but succumbed to desire. No judgement from me. The sex ban didn’t just affect non-cohabitating couples, but single people too. We’d look to cooler, more sex-progressive people, like the Dutch who were allowed a sex buddy during lockdowns, and yearn for a government that was more honest about sex and more knowledgeable about the reality of people’s lives.
The rules changed for the winter lockdown of 2022-2023 – you were allowed to have sex with someone who lived alone. However, that excluded many single people like me who lived in a flat-share. It was an open secret that an underground dating and sex scene was happening during this time. The majority of single people I know were shagging people they’d met online, non-cohabitating partners were meeting up as normal and Boris Johnson’s staff, apparently, were at it too.
I, like many others, accepted this because a lot of these people had abided by the rules for the first lockdown and enough was enough. Co-habiting couples knew it would be wrong to judge those who were entitled to the same human need they were privileged to. I suspect that the sex ban was made with full knowledge that most people wouldn’t abide by it, perhaps just the hope that people would reason that it’s OK to just have the one sex buddy.
The rules were so ridiculous and unrealistic, it was unfair to assume they’d be taken seriously. Humans need sex like they need to exercise or go grocery shopping, yet the lockdown rules ignored this fact. It was very British how the Government tried to sweep the subject of sex under the carpet.
The British hate to talk about sex but love having it: seven in 10 British people are sexually active. Oxytocin, the hormone released after sex, is incredibly good for us. Sex is particularly rampant in times of crisis or stress: an impending sense of death makes us horny. Hancock gets it. During what (I hope) was one of the most stressful times of his life – dealing with a country in a health crisis – he still made time for his sexy affair.
It’s traumatic having to revisit such a dismal time of our lives and to be revisiting the lockdowns. I hope that if this was to happen again (God forbid), there would be policies in place for me to legally get access to that oxytocin Hancock was clearly getting. Sex is a human need and it’s not too awkward to admit that we Brits love a good shag, no matter how big the crisis we’re going through.