Amsterdam’s Red Light district is set to re-open today with workers expected to wear gloves and masks and sanitiser on hand for coronavirus-safe sex.
With Covid-19 deaths having dropped to single figures, Dutch PM Mark Rutte has allowed the sex industry to resume from July 1.
Prostitution is legal and regulated in Amsterdam with window-prostitutes being self-employed tax payers and able to hire their own windows on a nightly basis.
The neighbourhood draws millions of visitors to sex shows, adult clubs and brothels, where prostitutes pose in lingerie behind red-lit windows.
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However, a visit to the famous district now will be a little different than before the pandemic.
Every room will be entirely cleaned after each session including all objects.
All sex activity will be allowed, as long as it is practiced with a condom.
Meanwhile, the sex workers must wash their hands and body thoroughly and inspect customers beforehand.
Pictures of workers preparing the rooms on Tuesday show behind the red curtains as the windows, beds and surfaces are cleaned down ahead of customers returning.
While some of the doors have the words ‘respect our sexworker’ written across the front in red tape.
Many of the city’s prostitutes have faced hard times during the lockdown, despite the 1,050 EUR monthly government benefits they received, which many have said were not enough to survive on.
Some were not eligible for any support and were forced to continue working illegally, according to reports.
Local media reports claimed that many of the sex workers – some of whom hail from Eastern Europe – were forced to return to their homelands to live with their parents as they could not afford the cost of living in the Netherlands.
Rents in Amsterdam alone can easily reach over 1,000 EUR per month.
One woman, who gave her name as Felicia, told local media that she is not scared of the risks upon returning to work.
She said: “We will do everything we can to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible.”
She added: Of course there is a chance that you will catch the virus, but that is also possible if you are in the Albert Heijn supermarket.
“Anything is better than being locked up in your apartment, as has been the case over the past few months.”
Hella Dee – the pseudonym of a prostitute who is a member of PROUD, the Dutch union for sex workers – had set up a funding appeal, saying the closures have impacted Dutch sex workers and their families, with other prostitutes globally likely to be hit by similar moves.
The Dutch government ordered the closure of sex clubs and brothels in the district on March 15.