A sex worker at an inner-Brisbane parlour is among the first people in Queensland to be charged under the new physical distancing and isolation rules.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the federal government this week announced strict new rules limiting public and private gatherings to two people, and restricting acceptable purposes for leaving the home.
‘Non-essential’ businesses, including adult establishments such as brothels, strip clubs, bars, and sex on premises venues, were ordered to close last week.
A Lutwyche massage parlour was fined $6,672 on Monday for remaining open despite the directives, 7 News has reported.
A worker at the business also received a $1,334 fine.
“This related to a compliance check of licensed and unlicensed brothels we are carrying out,” said Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll yesterday.
“It’s alleged… the massage services were offered in contravention [of the pandemic physical distancing] directive.”
Three sex workers and a manager were charged and fined for operating in Sydney last week.
Sex work and health organisations have criticised the government and police, saying that criminalisation is not an appropriate or effective response to a public health crisis.
“It would be advantageous to the control of COVID-19 if the government was willing to work in partnership with sex worker organisations, rather than to implement criminalisation and penalties,” said Jules Kim, CEO of national sex worker body Scarlet Alliance.
CEO of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations Darryl O’Donnell said that sex workers had proven their capability to work safely during health crises.
“Sex workers take public health extremely seriously and have been at the forefront of efforts to slow and prevent the spread of conditions such as HIV, hepatitis C, and other STIs,” he said.
Sole-operator private sex workers have not at this time been explicitly told they must stop working, though many have been affected by decreased client numbers.
Those who are still working can take measures to help prevent the spread of the virus, which has now passed 4,000 cases in Australia.
Sex workers are encouraged to contact their state or territory peer organisation for information and support, including about health, finances, and the law.