A Tory Health Minister has warned university students not to spread coronavirus in their “bedrooms”.
Lord Bethell appeared to urge millions not to have sex as Freshers’ Weeks kick off across the country.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman also appeared to warn students away from getting together under the covers.
Asked if they should “restrain themselves”, the spokesman said: “Look, I think the rules for meeting indoors continue to talk about the need to observe social distancing.”
Having sex with someone outside your household is no longer against the law as it was at the height of lockdown.
Instead, the law in England will ban gatherings of more than six people in any one place from Monday.
However, intimate contact between two people from different households is still against social distancing guidance.
The guidance – not the same as the legal limit – says you should “stay two metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or one metre with extra precautions.”
It comes as rates of coronavirus surge among people aged 17 to 21.
England’s cases surged from 12.5 per 100,000 people to 19.7 in a week.
But the incidence rate is far higher for the young – at 48.1 for those aged 17 and 18, 54.5 for 19 to 21 year olds, and 41.6 for those aged 20 to 29.
Despite this, the government is urging universities to go ahead with starting the 2020/21 academic year this month.
However, Lord Bethell told Parliament yesterday: “We are deeply concerned about the spread among students.
“Some of that spread will take place in universities, and I pay tribute to the efforts of vice-chancellors to put in place social distancing arrangements in universities; we hope that they will have an impact.
“However, some of the effect is in their social life – in pubs, clubs and bedrooms up and down the country.
“That is the responsibility of the students themselves.
“We are looking at measures to enhance and enforce the social distancing measures that will stop the spread of this disease.”
Asked if the Prime Minister agreed, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “I haven’t seen those remarks – but the PM would urge students along with the rest of the population to follow the updated rules and guidance.
“And in particular, to follow the rule of six on campus.”
Asked again if students should restrain themselves he said: “Look, I think the rules for meeting indoors continue to talk about the need to observe social distancing.”
The government issued updated guidance to universities today on how to stay Covid-secure as they prepare to open.
Face coverings should be worn in “all communal and enclosed spaces” but teaching in person will continue – with the six-person limit not having to apply.
Universities are expected to offer “blended learning” with some in-person tuition and some on a laptop.
Once students arrive at their halls of residence, they should be grouped into “households” of those living in the same flat or floor, or sharing the same kitchen or bathroom.