Candlelight. The moon above. And, gazing deeply into your eyes, someone special who also officially qualifies as “part of your small circle of close contacts.”

That’s romance, and sex, in the coronavirus era, according to New York City Health Department guidelines. It should be noted that the fact sheet does attempt to accentuate the positive. Yes, “kissing can easily pass the virus,” and, sure, “COVID-19 has been found in the feces of people who are infected with the virus,” meaning that “rimming (mouth on anus) might spread COVID-19.” However—and here’s the beauty part—“there is no evidence that the virus has been found in vaginal fluid.” Also: “You are your safest sex partner,” so masturbate away, says New York City, “especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.” Maybe the city could go even further and provide a colorful illustrated chart, as Oregon has: “Get off while maintaining your distance,” enthuses the second panel.

Out in the wider world, when the sex involves more people than just you—strangers, sometimes—things are even further proscribed. Just ask (if you can get within shouting distance) any of the estimated tens of millions of sex workers, a sector of the global economy that’s been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

It’s no surprise they’re struggling, given the intimate nature of their business. The fact that in most countries the sex industry is still criminalized also means the workers are largely excluded from the government programs that might help them weather these times.

“You are your safest sex partner,” so masturbate away, says New York City.

What to do? In Chile, where prostitution is a regulated industry, prostitutes have gone high-tech, offering virtual entertainment with online videos, photos, and video calls. In Germany, where prostitution is legal, some brothel owners are pushing for reopening by advocating a hygiene plan that requires face masks and prohibits group sex. (Prostitutes would be allowed to remove their masks for certain sex acts.)

Brothels in Amsterdam’s normally tourist-infested red-light district are eager to reopen, especially given that some massage parlors already have. In Switzerland, where prostitution is also legal, sex workers have proposed using mouth and nose coverings, intense cleaning of the premises, and 15 minutes of room ventilation between customers. The proposals seem to have swayed officials. The ban is to be lifted this weekend, possibly because the Swiss sex workers went the extra mile and suggested limiting indoor activities to non-face-to-face positions—like “doggy-style” and “reverse cowgirl”—giving new meaning to moon, June, spoon.

George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for Air Mail