'Kissing is out, contact tracing is in': Sex workers back on the job under COVID-19 alert level 2

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After weeks of strict 'no touching' rules nationwide, sex workers are back on the job from Thursday. Photo credit: Getty.

The national lift to COVID-19 alert level 2 means it's business as usual for many Kiwis, including sex workers who headed back to work on Thursday. 

With no touching outside of personal bubbles during lockdown, sex workers have been forced to adapt to novel means of work including online services including video and phone offerings. But many potential clients were set to flaunt the rules, with one dominatrix telling Newshub she received around six or seven requests a day for meet-ups.

The New Zealand Prostitute's Collective (NZPC) released guidelines for sex workers on their website on Thursday with a checklist of hygiene practices and safety measures workers, brothels and massage parlours should be implementing now intimacy outside of bubbles is allowed. 

Included in the list are steps such as "avoid the 'moist breath zone' as much as possible", using gloves and masks where needed and to avoid work if you're suffering any cold or flu symptoms. 

Frequent and thorough showering, hand washing and surface cleaning are also recommended, using ant-viral disinfectants. 

Contact tracing will also be implemented with the date, time and location of any appointment recorded. Agreements must also be undertaken that a client will contact a sex worker directly if they test positive for COVID-19 following an interaction. 

Those over 70 or with compromised immune systems are to avoid sex work for the moment. 

NZPC national coordinator Dame Catherine Healy told Newshub "kissing is out and contact tracing procedures are in". 

"We have great confidence that sex workers will be sensible in managing the return to work and the procedures related to contact tracing and keeping them and their clients safe," she said. 

Auckland gentleman's club Femme Fatale announced on Instagram they'd be open from 7pm on Thursday, while sensual massage parlour Total Body Bliss has also reopened. 

Manager Savannah said that while sex is never on offer at the establishment, the workers are avoiding kissing or hugging, which are often part of the service. 

She said there are several new safety procedures in place.

"We're limiting the number of clients and separating them, and keeping the girls in separate rooms throughout the day," she told Newshub. 

"We're sanitising everywhere and we have face masks for clients if they want to wear them, but we're not forcing them to."

Savannah said they were contact tracing with phone numbers and email addresses, which she didn't see as being an issue as "most customers book through phone or a text anyway". 

"We're quite above board and high-end here, so our customers aren't as weary as those at some of the more underground ones," she explained.  

Like many of us, she said all the employees at Total Body Bliss were ready to get back to work.

"Everyone's really excited. We've only got one girl who's grandma is sick so she wants to wait until level 1. But everyone else is ready and excited."