- Title: Kissing off menu as lockdown ends for Dutch sex workers
- Date: 1st July 2020
- Summary: PROVINCE OF NORTH HOLLAND, THE NETHERLANDS (JUNE 30, 2020) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Dutch) SEX WORKER, MOIRA MONA, SAYING: "I do think that it will take some time before we get the continuous influx of customers again as it was before the corona crisis. A lot of people are working at home, children are still home, and they don't have time for it (visiting sex workers). There has also been a financial blow for a lot of people and like for other luxury services, people have become more reluctant. And of course there will still be some people who really belong to a risk group who are afraid to make an appointment." MONA'S FEET STANDING IN FRONT OF A CAGE IN HER ATTIC MONA POSING WITH HER FOOT ON THE CAGE
- Embargoed: 15th July 2020 13:48
- Keywords: COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown mask red light district reopening safety measures sex workers windows
- Location: AMSTERDAM AND HILVERSUM, THE NETHERLANDS
- City: AMSTERDAM AND HILVERSUM, THE NETHERLANDS
- Country: Netherlands
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA005CKZBGP3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Dutch sex workers welcomed customers back on Wednesday (July 1) as the Netherlands further eased coronavirus measures, but they were advised to avoid heavy breathing and kissing to help reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
Erotic dancers and prostitutes lost their main source of income for three-and-a-half months and generally did not have access to state support during lockdown. They were surprised when the government brought forward the date they could reopen from a tentative September 1 to July 1.
Amsterdam's "Red Light" district, where thousands of tourists generally crowd the canals to see sex shows, erotic gift shops and prostitutes, has been deserted for months.
Red Light United, which represents Amsterdam's window prostitutes, had campaigned to get back to work as soon as possible, noting some sex workers still had to pay rent on their premises and lockdown was forcing them to work illegally, exposing them to greater risks.
Sex workers already adhere to strict health safety regulations in the Netherlands, but the industry has compiled a list of recommendations, including sexual positions to avoid because of the new coronavirus.
Despite the improved COVID-19 statistics, people are advised to keep 1.5 metres (nearly 5 feet) apart and must wear face masks while riding public transportation.
Those rules won't apply to sex workers and health authorities recommend avoiding face-to-face encounters.
"We advise against literally getting in each others' faces, where you can breathe in each others' warm breath," said Debbie Mensink, a public health advisor in Amsterdam. "We also advise against kissing because saliva carries the virus and you could transfer it that way."
Moira Mona, a 29-year-old sex worker who has made some income during lockdown by doing webcam shows, said that if the government-imposed measures had remained in place much longer she would have spent her entire savings.
Mona has added a few new items to her collection of latex outfits, stiletto heels and tasselled whips to adhere to the protocol: a leather face cover with metal studs, black gloves and surgical face masks.
"I don't get unemployment benefits if I get sick. So when someone starts coughing or sneezing in my hallway, I say 'sweetheart, could you come back another time, because I don't feel like doing this. Because if I am out of the running for a week I earn no money for a week," she said.
As the number of new infections and COVID-19 deaths fell fast in recent weeks, the Netherlands lifted most lockdown measures. The country has recorded more than 50,000 infections and over 6,000 deaths since mid-March.
Foxxy Angel, another sex worker, said that since the government announced they could go back to business, her phone had not stopped ringing.
But Mona added that it might still take some time before business gets back to pre-corona levels, are some clients might still be stuck at home with their families.
Amsterdam's Mayor Femke Halsema is planning a major overhaul of the red light district to clean up the area and protect sex workers against sexual exploitation, human trafficking, violence and drug-related crime.
As lockdown has emptied the area of tourists and traffickers, there have been renewed calls from the local residents to put the plan in place.
(Production Esther Verkaik, Hortense de Roffignac)
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