Couples who don’t live together should either avoid each other completely or move in together for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, the deputy chief medical officer has said.
Jenny Harries urged those not cohabiting to either “test the strength of their relationship” by moving in together or be prepared for a long period of time apart.
Couples have been split by the pandemic amid strict rules to stay at home and not mix with people from outside their household.
But after Boris Johnson announced a lockdown that will last a minimum of three weeks, with the potential for months of restrictions, many have been pining for their partners and wondering how to maintain their relationship.
Asked about the situation at a Downing Street press conference, Dr Harries said: “The principle is that we want people to stay in their household units primarily.
“The reason for that is you have an infection you are very close with your family members, so your risk of exposure to the virus is pretty similar usually across the family.
“We almost expect another member of the family to get that unless they’re applying very very stringent precautions.
“So if your two individuals, two halves of the couple, are currently in separate households, ideally they should stay in those households.
“The alternative might be that for quite a significant period going forward they should just test the strength of their relationship and decide whether one wishes to be permanently resident in another household.
“In which case, all of the decisions about exercising – you should be on your own or within your household unit – would apply.
“What we do not want is people switching in and out of households.
“It defeats the purpose of the reduction in social interactions and will allow transmission of disease.
“So perhaps test really carefully your strength of feeling, stay with the household either together or apart, but keep it that way as we go forward otherwise we will not all be working towards achieving our outcome.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock added: “There we go – make your choice and stick with it.”