Sex Workers Can Get Back to Business in Switzerland, But Sports Remain Prohibited

Swiss say sex work is okay but not judo in virus reopening.

Sex Workers Can Get Back to Business in Switzerland, But Sports Remain Prohibited
A prostitute applies lipstick while waiting for clients in a sex salon in Bern, Switzerland. (Photographer: Adrian Moser/Bloomberg News)

(Bloomberg) --

Swiss politicians have decided that sex workers can soon get back to business while activities and sports involving close physical contact such as judo, boxing and wrestling will remain prohibited.

Prostitution is legal in Switzerland and can resume from June 6, along with cinemas, nightclubs and public pools, the government announced this week. Yet sports and activities that involve “close and constant” physical contact will continue to be forbidden in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

In announcing the new measures affecting an estimated 20,000 sex workers, Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset acknowledged the apparent contradiction.

“There are certainly personal contacts but a concept of protection seems possible. I am well aware of the bizarre aspect of my answer,” he told a press conference. “To tell you the truth, erotic services could have resumed earlier.”

Switzerland has dramatically slowed its Covid-19 infection rate while avoiding the strict confinement imposed in neighboring countries including Italy and France. New reported cases of infections in the country of 8.5 million were below 20 per day this week.

It was among the first countries in Europe to reopen shops, restaurants and schools earlier this month while easing social-distancing measures. Spontaneous public gatherings of as many as 30 people and events of no more than 300 will also be allowed from June 6.

The Swiss ruling contrasts with policy decisions in the Netherlands, home to Amsterdam’s famed red-light district. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at a press conference Wednesday that while gyms and saunas will likely reopen July 1, sex workers won’t be able to resume business until September.

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