Amsterdam’s red light district prepares to reopen on June 1

Behind the curtain in Amsterdam’s red light district as gloves, masks and hand sanitiser are laid out for coronavirus-safe sex

  • Sex workers given the green light to start working again in the red light district from Wednesday, July 1
  • Images from the district ahead of the opening show workers cleaning the rooms and windows 
  • Prostitutes on Amsterdam red light district recommended to wear latex gloves and face masks when possible
  • Red light district union also suggested avoiding oral sex and avoiding acts that involve faces being close

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The red light district in Amsterdam is to reopen on June 1 with prostitutes expected to wear gloves and avoid oral sex. 

Pictures of workers preparing the rooms used by Amsterdam’s sex workers show behind the red curtains as the windows, beds and surfaces are cleaned down ahead of customers returning.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave the sex industry, which is deemed as a ‘contact’ profession, the green light to restart after the number of coronavirus deaths fell into single figures. 

The news has been welcomed by sex workers, many of which have faced financial hardship when they were unable to work during the lockdown. The red light district has been shut down since June 16.

Many were forced to adapt, taking their business to an online format, with Complex UK reporting that websites such as ‘OnlyFans’ have seen a huge increase in users.

Pictured: A woman cleans mirrors inside one of the rooms rented by Amsterdam's prostitutes in its famous red light district ahead of its opening on July 1

Pictured: A woman cleans mirrors inside one of the rooms rented by Amsterdam’s prostitutes in its famous red light district ahead of its opening on July 1

Pictured: Red tape with the words 'respect our sexworker' is seen positioned on one of the glass doors of Amsterdam's red light district. Inside the room, a woman cleans the windows ahead of the districts reopening on July 1

Pictured: Red tape with the words ‘respect our sexworker’ is seen positioned on one of the glass doors of Amsterdam’s red light district. Inside the room, a woman cleans the windows ahead of the districts reopening on July 1

The red light district, or ‘De Wallen’ is the largest and most popular red light district in Amsterdam, and is home to roughly 300 single-room cabins that are rented by prostitutes to ply their trade in.

They typically stand behind a glass door that is typically illuminated by red lights, hence the district’s colloquial name, which opens into a small room with a bed and other limited amenities.

Pictures from the district on June 30, the day ahead of the re-opening, have shown workers cleaning the spaces ready for people to return, as well as window cleaners ensuring the glass doors are spotless. 

Inside, the rooms have gloves, face masks and hand sanitiser ready to go for when tenants and customers return, while some of the doors have the words ‘respect our sexworker’ written across the front in red tape.

Pictured: A man in Amsterdam's red light district cleans the glass doors of rooms rented by prostitutes in the city as it prepares to reopen to sex workers on July 1

Pictured: A man in Amsterdam’s red light district cleans the glass doors of rooms rented by prostitutes in the city as it prepares to reopen to sex workers on July 1

Pictured: A woman cleans the inside of a glass door facing out on to an Amsterdam street 'De Wallen', also known as Amsterdam's red light district, which will reopen for sex workers on July 1 after lockdown began in the middle of March

Pictured: A woman cleans the inside of a glass door facing out on to an Amsterdam street ‘De Wallen’, also known as Amsterdam’s red light district, which will reopen for sex workers on July 1 after lockdown began in the middle of March

As well as not being able to work, several workers were not eligible for government support because of how they are registered – forcing them to work illegally and breach the Netherlands’ lockdown regulations.  

For this reason, late last month Red Light United, a union for red light district window workers, wrote to the government to urge it the reopen the sex industry earlier than the original date of September 1.  

It set out measures which it expects sex workers to use to help protect themselves and clients, such as wearing latex gloves and mouth masks.

Pictured: Gloves, face masks and hand sanitiser sit on a chair inside one of the rooms rented by Amsterdam's sex workers ahead of reopening on July 1

Pictured: Gloves, face masks and hand sanitiser sit on a chair inside one of the rooms rented by Amsterdam’s sex workers ahead of reopening on July 1

Prostitutes in the red light district have been advised to wear gloves and a mask as they work, and to avoid oral sex and any positions that involve faces being too close, to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus

Prostitutes in the red light district have been advised to wear gloves and a mask as they work, and to avoid oral sex and any positions that involve faces being too close, to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus

The red light district closed on March 16 as The Netherlands went into lockdown. Many sex workers have struggled financially since. As well as not being able to work, several workers were not eligible for government support because of how they are registered

The red light district closed on March 16 as The Netherlands went into lockdown. Many sex workers have struggled financially since. As well as not being able to work, several workers were not eligible for government support because of how they are registered

Additionally, it suggested avoiding oral sex and kissing and only offering sex positions where they do not face the client.

Mr Rutte said, as it is a contact job, workers will need to speak to their clients in advance and check if they have symptoms. 

He added that the government had asked for advice about ‘which positions were possible’. 

Pictured: A man cleans the windows of a bathroom in one of buildings that houses the rooms the sex workers in Amsterdam's red light district rent

Pictured: A man cleans the windows of a bathroom in one of buildings that houses the rooms the sex workers in Amsterdam’s red light district rent

The red light district in Amsterdam has been given the go ahead by the Dutch Prime Minister to reopen on Wednesday

The red light district in Amsterdam has been given the go ahead by the Dutch Prime Minister to reopen on Wednesday

Late last month Red Light United, a union for red light district window workers, wrote to the government to urge it the reopen the sex industry earlier than the original date of September 1

Late last month Red Light United, a union for red light district window workers, wrote to the government to urge it the reopen the sex industry earlier than the original date of September 1

The Netherlands went into lockdown on March 16 but has suffered an economic contraction of six per cent, leading to experts suggesting the lockdown should be eased. 

Economist Mathijs Bouman told The Sunday Telegraph that the countries ‘laid-back approach’ to testing was not the right choice. 

He added: ‘We are going to the boundaries of what’s possible at the moment – but since one third of our money is earned abroad we are still a cork floating on a wild international sea.’

Many prostitutes have been forced to work illegally and breach lockdown rules as they were not eligible for support from the government

Many prostitutes have been forced to work illegally and breach lockdown rules as they were not eligible for support from the government

The Red Light United union wrote to the government urging for restrictions on the sex industry to be lifted sooner and set out safety measures which could be adopted, including wearing face masks

The Red Light United union wrote to the government urging for restrictions on the sex industry to be lifted sooner and set out safety measures which could be adopted, including wearing face masks

Several safety measures have been implemented in the Netherlands in order to limit the spread of coronavirus

Several safety measures have been implemented in the Netherlands in order to limit the spread of coronavirus

The red light district was initially set to reopen on September 1, but Rutte brought the reopening forward as coronavirus measures in the country begin to ease. 

The Netherlands began it’s ‘intelligent lockdown’ on March 16, still permitting smaller gatherings so long as social distancing is observed.

As the number of daily coronavirus deaths in the country moved into single figures, measures have been relaxed, with The Netherlands implementing a 1.5 meter rule.

However, the government acknowledged that the rule makes it difficult for single people to have sexual intimacy, and updated guidance to allow people to make sensible ‘sex buddy’ relationships.

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