When can I see partner I don’t live with?
Australia's rules around social distancing amid the COVID-19 crisis have been pretty clear surrounding couples and families that live under the same roof. But what about those who live separately to their loved ones?
It's a question many couples who live apart are asking on social media as officials warn people to prepare for spending at least six months in self-isolation.
So do these couples have to wait until the Government restrictions loosen up before they see their partner again - or are they able to visit each other while still being socially responsible?
so im no stranger to missing my partner but the fact that i have no idea when i can see them again is making me fhijbxsd hxxunn— athena (@jesssiecaww) March 29, 2020
If you live with your significant other/ partner during this quarantine you are extremely luck. I don’t know when the next time will be when I can see my guy and it upsets me to my core 💔— Jo (@jndlrnts) March 20, 2020
What’s the protocol on social distancing when you have a partner you don’t live with but see frequently? Can I still see them? Smooch them? Can they sleep over? This might be a dumb question but idk what’s best.— Kim (@kikikikimberly) March 17, 2020
Journalist and medical professional Dr Norman Swan explained on ABC's Coronacast that couples who don't share a home can still see each other if they are taking all the precautions - including no physical touch and keeping at least a 1.5m distance between you.
"You should not break the 2m rule, even with your own partner," Dr Swan advised. "The problem here is you're not living with them so you're not quite sure what each other's doing or who you've come in contact with. That's the problem."
While it's hardly the romantic reunion many would envisage, it is better than not being able to see your other half at all.
But Dr Swan warned that if you or your partner have crossed paths with anyone with the potentially deadly virus or are on the high-risk list, you absolutely can't see each other.
"The issue which is first of all, have you got symptoms? If you've got symptoms you certainly shouldn't see each other," he said.
"Have you had contact with anyone with COVID-19? Well you shouldn't see each other. Have you come back from overseas and are in quarantine therefore you shouldn't see each other."
For most couples though who are self-isolating as a part of community responsibility, you should at least be able to physically see one another as long as the meeting takes place in a safe area.
"As long as you're both doing it and therefore you know where each other's been in a sense in the last few days, then probably common sense would say, 'look it's okay'," Dr Swan revealed on the daily podcast.
"Particularly if you continue to social distance so that when you see each other you're not getting too close. That would be fine most people would say as long as it's not in a crowded area such a park or something like that."
RELATED: What is social distancing?
In the UK, the University of East Anglia School of Medicine's Professor Paul Hunter advised couples who are living at the same address and are symptom free are able to maintain physical relationship.
"If you are free of symptoms but are social distancing, then there are no reasons why you cannot continue to have sex with your partner when you live together," Prof Hunter said.
"If your sex life is rather more bohemian and you cannot get to have sex without mixing with some or many other people, this mixing is advised against, so stay at home.
"This is especially important if you are in one of the at-risk groups."
He also said close interaction with others increases the risk of spreading the infection and it's no different in physically intimate scenarios.
"Even during sex, the main risk probably comes from being close face-to-face through droplet spread, through kissing and touching each other's faces," Prof Hunter said.
"I am not aware of any evidence to date that the infection can be spread through vaginal intercourse per se. So, please continue to wash your hands regularly and especially before sex."
Australia's Department of Health has offered its views on whether it's wise to be romantic at the moment.
"It is a matter of common sense," a spokesperson told news.com.au previously.
"Limiting contact with an intimate partner who shares your home is really only necessary when a person is unwell. Otherwise, continuing good hand hygiene practices in the home is the recommendation."
Originally published as When can I see partner I don't live with?