Saunas and massage parlors will remain closed until July 1, but the brothels may open again in Belgium today. A visit to the sex houses will take some getting used to for the customers. Upon entering, the temperature of the customer is measured and the wearing of a mask is mandatory for both visitor and hostess / gentleman. Not everyone is happy with the reopening. “It is life-threatening.”
Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès did not explicitly mention last week during the press conference of the Security Council that the brothels may open again this week. This has to do with the fact that prostitution is not allowed in our southern neighbors anyway: it is tolerated. And what you don’t officially exist, you can’t allow it again.
The official silence led to confusion, according to the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws. Everyone pointed at each other, because nobody wanted to be the minister who says that prostitution is allowed again. But Prime Minister Wilmès says that everything will be allowed, except for the activities that are specifically excluded. Yesterday, several sex houses opened their doors again after almost three months. For example, on the Maison d’Amour site in Sint-Job-in-‘t-Goor (near Antwerp) you can read that the ladies have been available again since Monday. However, strict hygiene and cleaning measures have been taken to exclude contamination as much as possible. In addition to the mandatory masks, all sheets and towels are changed after every visitor. The rooms and showers are also disinfected after each visit.
Not everyone finds it logical that the prostitutes can return to work. Saunas and massage parlors, for example, will remain closed until 1 July and cuddling is still not recommended. But the reasoning is that many sex workers are still secretly at work, and that it is even more unsafe.
Some sex workers are not happy with the decision at all. The prostitute Hot Marijke, known in Flanders, was shocked when she read it. Among other things, it means that her profession will lose the so-called “nuisance premium” (a government grant for companies suffering from the corona outbreak) if they start working again. But Hot Marijke fears for her health and that of her family. She finds it irresponsible to start and even threatens to sue. “It is life-threatening.”
The intention is to agree on a common security protocol for the brothels. In practice, this is difficult since there is no umbrella organization for the sex workers. It is not a recognized profession. The Belgian Ministry of Work therefore points to the cities: they will work out the protocols with their red light districts. Antwerp, for example, has already taken matters in hand to prepare for the reopening of window prostitution. The city aims to open the brothels in the red light district of Schipperskwartier, which is also familiar to many Dutch people, on 15 June.