Should you stop dating during the coronavirus outbreak?

If all this talk about social distancing in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic — known as COVID-19 — has you confused, we don't blame you. Does social distancing mean that you should be putting a hold on your entire social life for the foreseeable future? Should you stop dating in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak?

While not everyone agrees about just how restrictive we need to be when it comes to social distancing, The Atlantic reported "there is a general consensus" that, while everyone should be taking precautions to avoid large groups of people in order to limit their exposure to the virus, those who are young and healthy don't have to completely put their lives on hold. That means that you can date so long as you aren't at a higher risk of become severely ill from COVID-19, but you should be careful.

You don't have to stop dating, but you should take extra precautions

Albert Ko, who serves as the chair of the epidemiology department at the Yale School of Public Health, told the outlet that one-on-one dating is reasonably safe. "What we're really worried about in terms of public health are these large gatherings where you have people crowded together, and you can have what we call super-spreading events," he said. "The risk of those goes up exponentially the larger the size of the gathering. Dating is at the other end. I think you can still date."

On the other hand, Carolyn Cannuscio, the director of research at the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, urged more caution. "It is a time to be very cautious about initiating contact with new people," she said. "This seems like a great time to get creative with your text messages. [Or] take it to FaceTime or a phone call."

In short, it's best to limit your contact with large groups of people. Meeting up for some face time with a date in an area that isn't too crowded should be relatively safe, according to some experts, so long as neither of you is in a high-risk category. Going to a crowded bar for a drink, however, isn't as advisable. And no matter what you decide to do, remember to wash your hands, and if you're feeling sick, stay home. That date can wait.