My local neighbourhood is documenting lockdown life by photographing each household on our doorsteps. The neighbour, a part-time photographer, is taking each photo and captioning it with our names, how long we’ve living here, and what we’re missing during lockdown. It took the five of us a few minutes to choose a group photo we all agreed on, one where at least one of us didn’t have a weird facial expression or closed eyes, but the list of things we were missing was a lot quicker – friends, family, socialising, and sex.

The neighbour laughed and said she hadn’t thought of that and that she’d have to check her “couples’ privilege”. She might have been joking but she wasn’t wrong. There are six in our house and aside from one who, seeing the restrictions coming, moved in with his boyfriend ahead of the official lockdown, we barely seen anyone aside from the other four.

And it seemed like the rest of the country hadn’t noticed the gaping problem with the restrictions we have been living under since March. We’d talked about loneliness, the difficulties arranging childcare, and the issues with who was allowed back to work and who wasn’t, but until about a week ago, no-one was talking about the sex ban.

That was until Matt Hancock – or, as I now call him, Matt Cockblock – announced we shouldn’t expect to be hugging new friends until a vaccine was found. Then social media exploded with people pointing out the Health Secretary was effectively saying no sex please, we’re social distancing.

If you do not live with your partner it has been contrary to the guidance to see them since the lockdown began in March. Due to an update in the legislation, it had been actually illegal to have sex with them for just over a fortnight. For most people sticking to the rules, that means no sex for twelve weeks. Unless of course you live in a rom-com and inevitably realise that what you have been missing is right under your nose, and that you were destined to fall in love with the guy you met on SpareRoom. No, me neither. And with YouGov recently reporting 27% of people have sex in any given week, that’s a hell of a lot of sex we’ve been missing out on.

One small legislative change and suddenly the steady drip of voices urging a faster end to lockdown increased, and the outrage ticked up a notch. People began to realise that the legislation passed to limit the spread of coronavirus has wide-ranging unintended consequences. The impact of the Regulations, unless repealed as soon as possible, would be the end of (legal) casual sex. No one would have suspected Boris Johnson would be the prime minister to do it – after all, “Boris Bans Bonking” makes a great tabloid headline. Yet now people have noticed this very personal unintended consequence their eyes have been opened to what these laws could really mean.

Last night’s daily briefing brought a bit a light relief for some. The announcement sets out how household bubbles will allow single households to buddy up for interaction indoors, and to stay overnight. I imagine the government would prefer to focus on the lone grandparent who can now visit their child and grandchildren or the single person who can have a friend over for dinner. But, let’s face it, Twitter wasn’t wrong to brand them sex bubbles.

Like most announcements from the government in recent weeks, it was a bit of a shambles.  The Prime Minister and the Chief Medical Officer managed to outline subtly different policies; the Prime Minister said “single people” while Chris Whitty spoke of “single households”. Cue an evening of journalists and the general public trying to work out if that means both halves of the bubble had to be living alone. The consensus appears to be that as long as one half is, you’re fine.

It doesn’t come without headaches though; if my housemates and I did think the 12 weeks of isolation were getting to us and wanted to see a friend, partner, or start swiping right on Tinder, well only one of us is allowed to. The bubble applies to all of us. Coin toss anyone?

But it’s a start and for the couples who have spent the last three months unable to have physical contact the change will be more than welcome. Now it’s time to loosen things up for the rest of us.

Some people might find the focus on sex flippant or distasteful in the midst of a pandemic, but the idea that the government has outlawed sex between consenting adults has come of a bit of a shock to millions. Many will be wary of government overreach and the consequences of passing legalisation without public oversight.

We are currently living under some of the most draconian regulations since the end of the Second World War. If focusing people’s desire to have sex and willingness to break the law to get it is what spurs us towards repealing the laws, then I’m more than happy to keep talking about it.