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‘We disinfect everything’: Amsterdam’s red-light district re-opens

The red-light district in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
The red-light district in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. © AFP / FRANCE 24
2 min

Amsterdam’s red-light district re-opened on Wednesday, July 1 after being closed for more than three months during the Covid-19 lockdown, though sex workers have been advised to avoid kissing and follow strict hygiene measures to  reduce the risk of spreading the virus.


Industry bodies have compiled a list of recommendations to help keep workers and clients safe, including sexual positions and practices to avoid.

“We advise to avoid being too close to each other’s face, feeling each other’s breath. The intention is to not breathe out into each other’s face,” Debbie Mensink, a public health advisor in Amsterdam, told Reuters.

“In addition, we advise not to kiss, because this implies saliva exchange. The virus can be in the saliva and thus transmitted."

But while other workers such as hairdressers and masseurs are required to wear masks they will not be obligatory for sex workers.

“After the customer leaves the room, we’re going to disinfect everything he might have touched, bed, sink, the toilet if he used the toilet, the doorknobs, everything,” sex worker Felicia Anna told AFP.

The Netherlands ordered all brothels closed in mid-March. For most sex workers it meant the loss of their main source of income, with many having little access to state support during lockdown.

The government had planned to keep brothels closed until September, but brought the date forward after Covid-19 cases dropped.

“During the lockdown, a lot of sex workers ran into financial trouble so we’re very happy that we can finally start our job again,” said Felicia Anna.

“A lot of customers are also tourists and at the moment we don’t have a lot of tourists because there are a lot of countries that still have a travel ban. Hopefully it’s still going to be good for everybody, for every worker. I did ask some of my colleagues and so far they said that the work is quite ok.”


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