When Jean Franzblau, the founder of Cuddle Sanctuary in Los Angeles, first heard of a contagious virus spreading across the globe in March, she set stringent policies for all participants: wash your hands the moment you arrive to a cuddle; don’t come if you feel ill; if a client appears sick or is coughing, a cuddle session leader may send them home.
“We implemented that for two events, a Wednesday and a Saturday. And then we were closed,” said Franzblau, who won’t reopen until a vaccine is made widely available. “It was so quick: here’s our new protocol and then our protocol is we’re closed. It was very intense and very dramatic.”
Professional cuddle organizations like Cuddle Sanctuary aim to provide clients with a sense of calm and bliss, thanks in part to the anxiety-reducing hormone oxytocin which is released in response to positive, social touch, like a hug from