Sex workers return to work in northern Germany as coronavirus restrictions ease | News | DW | 08.09.2020
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Sex workers return to work in northern Germany as coronavirus restrictions ease

North Rhine-Westphalia will allow prostitution with immediate effect while Hamburg, Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein will ease the restrictive measures imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic on September 15.

Prostitutes can return to work in the northern German states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg, Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein, after the coronavirus lockdown regulations imposed earlier this year were eased.

The Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia overturned the ban on prostitution issued in the course of the pandemic with immediate effect on Tuesday, while the three other states will see brothels reopen from September 15, albeit with workers having to follow strict regulations.

Read more: How a Romanian sex worker is affected by prostitution ban

The Münster court in Germany's most populous state ruled that because a total ban violated the principle of proportionality, it had to be overturned.

As an example, the court cited fitness studios, where there was also increased breathing activity. Additionally, it was not apparent that the risk of infection was significantly higher during sexual acts between two people than at private parties with up to 150 in attendance.

Just last week, one of Europe's biggest brothels, Pascha, a major landmark in Cologne, filed for bankruptcy amid financial troubles due to the pandemic.

Pascha, Cologne, Germany

One of Europe's biggest brothels, Pascha, in Cologne, went bankrupt amid the coronavirus pandemic

Hamburg, Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein to follow

Hamburg city's social affairs minister, Melanie Leonhard, announced that the gradual lifting of restrictions will begin next week. She added that the change had been coordinated among the three regional administrations.

Germany's federal system allows each of the 16 states to devise its own policies on COVID-19-related restrictions.

Prostitutes in Hamburg and Bremen, two city states, and the northernmost region of Schleswig-Holstein will be required to keep contact lists in order to track potential chains of infection. Furthermore, sex workers must meet clients only by appointment.

"Prostitution events and prostitution in vehicles" will still be prohibited, Leonhard said.

The port city of Hamburg is home to the Reeperbahn, one of Germany's most famous red-light districts.

Tuesday's decision comes in the wake of a number of legal victories for sex workers who went through the courts to have coronavirus restrictions lifted.

Higher regional courts in the states of Saxony-Anhalt in central Germany, Lower Saxony in the northwest and North Rhine-Westphalia in the west recently paved the way for brothels to reopen.

The city government in Berlin previously agreed to a gradual reopening of sex work operations from August 8.

Read moreCoronavirus: Merkel's bid for unity hampered by Germany's federal system

jsi/dr (dpa, AFP)

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