As increasing numbers of cities and states are issuing stay-at-home orders and otherwise encouraging social distancing, the ever-progressive New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has issued pointers on navigating sex during this new pandemic.

General social distancing guidelines stipulate that people should remain six feet apart from one another to prevent transmission of the new coronavirus, which can cause the potentially fatal respiratory illness known as COVID-19. Scientists know that the virus can spread through direct contact with an infected individual’s saliva or mucus.

Thus far, the coronavirus has been found in the feces of infected individuals but not in semen or vaginal fluids. Researchers have found that other coronaviruses do not transmit well through sexual acts.

The New York City guidelines state that masturbation is the safest sexual activity with regard to coronavirus transmission. The next safest is sex with a partner you already live with. The city advises against sex with anyone outside your household; if you do engage in sex with people who don’t live with you, the guidance is to minimize your number of partners as much as possible.

For those who meet partners online or through apps or who engage in sex work, the city advises putting in-person meetups on hold for now and exploring video dates, sexting or chat rooms.

To minimize the risk of transmitting coronavirus during sex, should you have sex, the health department notes that kissing can easily pass the virus and advises against kissing anyone not in your small circle of close contacts. Rimming could be a source of transmission as well. Condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva or feces.

It’s very important to wash up before and after sex. Remember, when it comes to washing your hands, a minimum of 20 seconds is the golden rule.

If you or your partner isn’t feeling well, avoid sex, especially kissing.

People at higher risk of developing complications related to coronavirus infection are also advised to avoid sex. This includes people with lung or heart disease, diabetes, cancer or a weakened immune system, including those with a detectable HIV viral load and a low CD4 count. People older than 60 years old are also at higher risk.

To read the New York City recommendations, click here.