01:36 GMT04 April 2020
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    Strippers and street-based workers appear to be bracing for severe income cuts due to a shrinking clientele, despite many taking preventive steps not to come down with the rapidly spreading China-originated COVID-19.

    Sex workers who rely on tete-a-tete appointments, unlike webcam models, for instance, are being severely hit by the raging coronavirus pandemic, Vice reported.

    The looming crunch is such that many, whose income largely consists of tips rather than a regular salary, believe they will soon be unable to pay their rent, as their appointments with clients are increasingly being called off.

    Street-based sex workers say clients are vanishing and concerns are mounting that the situation is only going to get worse, as travel bans are issued across the world, thereby limiting everyone’s mobility.

    Anti-COVID 19 precautions are already in place though, with many who are continuing their work now demanding that customers check their temperature before their meet-ups, while quite a few have gone further still and enforced a no-kissing rule. For many, webcam sites have become alternative sources of income amid the global health emergency.

    According to Andrea Werhun, a 30-year-old Toronto-based stripper, workers across the board are “freaking out”, as she put it in comments to Vice:

    “I feel like my career as a dancer is in jeopardy as it becomes increasingly less viable to hang out in crowds, which is kind of what I do every Friday and Saturday night in order to make money", she told the edition, detailing that she is not screening her clients at the club for whether “they’ve been to Iran, China, or Italy”.

    Wellington brothel owner and dominatrix Mary Brennan said the coronavirus could impact the sex industry in a really unexpected way: 

    "It might make people so panicked … that our clientele need more stress relief, like happens in big financial crisis times", she said, as cited by Stuff NZ, adding that the industry would also suffer from the nationwide downturn.

    Amanda Winters, a 27-year-old from Miami, echoes Werhun’s stance, sharing that her finances are already tight.

    “I am getting more concerned about my financial situation”, Winters said. “On a stable schedule, I often would have two to four good clients a night...the past week—going on two now—I have had one full client”, she complained, adding that the chances are she will shift to camming instead.

    Another woman, Toronto dominatrix Lady Pim, offers diversified services, and, as she told VICE, it makes her ready for a COVID-19-instigated crisis:

    "I will still make a portion of my income doing it from home with Skype sessions, texting dominations, and phone call dominations, so a quarantine wouldn’t lead to a complete loss in income”, she shared with the edition.

    Meanwhile, Montreal-based Jenn Clamen, the communications coordinator at Chez Stella, a professional entity that sex workers started to protect their rights, said she hasn’t heard any concerns from the community yet. However, she acknowledged that it is too early to make judgements.

    “I can’t say that the industry has been affected for now. It’s probably too soon to tell”.

    On Wednesday, the WHO declared that the COVID-19 had officially reached pandemic status, as governments anxiously issue guidelines on how to behave in the case of emerging coronavirus symptoms as well as on appropriate precautions.

    According to the head of the World Health Organisation, Europe is currently “the epicentre” of the global pandemic, with countries advised to use whatever hard-line measures are necessary – be it community mobilisation or social distancing - to combat the virus.

    To date, more than 132,500 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in 123 countries around the world, according to the WHO, while the death toll has climbed to roughly 5,000.


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