In the attempt to curb COVID 19 community transmission, all sex on premises businesses in New South Wales were forced to shut on the 23rd March 2020. Brothels and strip clubs have since not been included in the economy reopening plans presented by the Federal and NSW government.
17 Sydney brothels are now lobbying the NSW government to lift the closures, which have been recommended to remain in place indefinitely by the Federal Government. In the Northern Territory and New Zealand, the decriminalised sex industries have reopened with restrictions. Industry lobbyists stress that strict hygiene standards will be enforced, alongside the introduction of a wide range of transmission minimising measures.
Industry spokesperson Julie Bates suggests that clients will still be seeking intimate experiences in less safe environments such as the dating app Tinder. The Scarlet Alliance states that “sex workers have been devastatingly hit by the impact of coronavirus” and the precarious nature of employment in the sex industry means that many workers are technically independent contractors and therefore ineligible for the JobKeeper payment.
Migrant sex workers find themselves at heightened at risk and remain unable to access any form of government support. Though engagement in online sex work, known as “camming”, has risen steadily since lockdowns were enforced worldwide, for most sex workers this option remains unfeasible and risky, as well as less financially lucrative.