The coronavirus pandemic has put a kink in many subcultures and alternative lifestyles. Those who enjoy clothing-optional lifestyles are certainly no exception, and even in the age of COVID-19, some of the more than 200,000 nudists living in the United States have come up with creative ways to “embrace the joy of living and experiencing nature in the most natural way possible.”
The American Association of Nude Recreation (AANR) describes its mission as “to advocate nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings while educating and informing society of their value and enjoyment.”
And for many nudists, these “appropriate settings” consist of a number of nudist resorts or colonies found throughout the country. But since social distancing measures have made it difficult or impossible to participate in many of these activities and settings, some are choosing instead to host so-called “nude stay-cations” with the help of digital conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Facetime.
One semi-NSFW nudist website called the Meandering Naturist recently documented a virtual nudist cocktail party in a blog post titled, “Social Nudity in the Age of Isolation: Naked on ZOOM!”
Apparently, the obvious pratfalls of the internet (read: perverts) have traditionally made it difficult for true nudists to assemble online in a nonsexual setting, so the author, Dan Carlson, suggests reading up on privacy settings to prevent from getting “Zoom bombed” and to make sure to set a password to your private channel. It’s also advised to turn off the “record” function since many people use their Zoom accounts for business purposes.
“Despite the fact that the internet can be glitchy, we found our Cyber Happy-Hour to be a lot of fun, and nobody had to assume the role of a designated driver,” writes Carlson.
Forbes adds that it’s important to note that nudity is actually against Zoom’s policies and regulations, but only if that activity is “harmful, obscene, or indecent.” But since nudists groups simply want to connect with their friends and surroundings sans clothing, it would be argued that they do not violate these rules.
Swinger enthusiasts, though, would put themselves in more danger if they continue with their in-person lifestyle during the pandemic, especially as more than 460,000 Americans have died because of COVID-19. In November, a swinger gathering in New Orleans led to 41 positive cases, and one of the participants had to be hospitalized in serious condition.
How nudist resorts are reopening
The (clothed) cruise line industry has been hit hard during the pandemic, but Florida—which is home to 29 registered nudist resorts and clubs, the most in the U.S. and more than twice as many as California—is gradually starting to reopen a tourism industry that has already taken a huge hit this year. So did Hedonism II in Jamaica in July.
“Nobody knows yet how much money the resorts will lose this year because of stay-at-home orders and quarantines,” Erich Schuttauf, executive director of the American Association for Nude Recreation, told the Washington Post.
Though the threat of the coronavirus still must be taken seriously, the good news for nudists is that nudism isn’t necessarily any more or less dangerous than a clothed lifestyle when it comes to catching COVID-19—and it hasn’t stopped this nudist couple who document their adventuress on Instagram from continuing to travel internationally.
“I don’t see wearing clothing as being much of a risk factor,” Cindy Prins, a University of Florida epidemiologist, told the Post. She added that social distancing is still key when participating in any activity, even swimming or sunbathing outdoors.
But in late August, it was reported that more than 100 nudists were infected during an outbreak in France at Cap d’Agde, one of the most well-known nudist colonies in Europe. More tests showed that 30% of the 800 members who were checked had been infected with the virus. In September, three nudists were fined $1,000 by Australian authorities for breaking coronavirus rules.
Until June, Lake Como Family Nudist Resort located in Pasco County, Florida—which is known as the “Nudist Capital of the United States”—had only been open to its 200 year-round residents, with as many as 800 regular visitors denied entry. The resort was likewise forced to cancel its three biggest annual events, including its “Dare to Go Bare 5K Run,” which typically sees 150 nude runners.
“We’re in the first phase of our four-phase reopening plan, with phase 4 being everything goes back to normal — but whether we’ll actually get to that, nobody knows,” said Lake Como’s marketing director Mike Kush.
The Cypress Cove Nudist Resort in Kissimmee has likewise seen stark changes since the pandemic was declared in March. One resident who has lived at the resort community for 40 years, 77-year-old Carolyn Hawkins, said that it used to be common for other residents to stop by her home. But not anymore.
Hawkins now helps supervise the community pool at Cypress Cove, which recently reopened with the contingency that swimmers must be limited to 10 at a time and stay six feet apart from one another. “That’s a little challenging,” Hawkins told the newspaper. “A lot of people are waiting to get in, but they also don’t want to see it shut down again.”
In other sad news, the owners of a popular clothing-optional bed and breakfast in New Orleans had to sell their property because of a lack of customers during the pandemic. The new owners reportedly promptly mandated that everybody wear clothes.
Meanwhile, a popular annual nude festival in Mexico called the Festival Nudista Zipolite went ahead in February 2021 (reports said 6,000 people attended, 30% of whom were foreigners), and a pair of naturists in the U.K. say being nude is the “best antidote ever” during the pandemic.
In a message on the AANR website, the organization says that it remains concerned for the well-being of all of its members, clubs, and associated businesses during this challenging time. And some resorts and at least one country are making sure nudists are wearing, at the very least, masks (after all, Bill Gates suggested in November that if you’re not wearing a mask, you’re kind of like a nudist anyway).
“AANR is particularly proud that social nudists and naturists have always been good neighbors who support one another in times of need,” it added.
As always, though, nudists in a pandemic—and anybody else, for that matter—should be concerned about wild animals butting in on their fun.