Brothels are back in business
BROTHEL operators say they braced themselves for "pent-up demand" after being given the green light to open at midday Friday as part of Stage 3 COVID restrictions.
"There's not a day we don't have to tell someone in the car park that we're not open," said Silks on Upton owner Katherine Hammond.
"There was plenty of pent-up demand out there. People have been holed up for three months and even when they go out they can't mingle at a bar. It's very difficult to interact and pick up."
Brothels had been closed since March and were originally excluded from reopening under Stage 3 restrictions, but this changed after industry lobbying.
"We took advantage of being closed to complete a complete overhaul of our premises, in excess of $100,000, including new themed rooms," Mrs Hammond said.
"Our service providers have all been contacted about restarting but because their three-month sexual health certificates have expired, they need to get those before starting work again."
Mrs Hammond said there were real concerns that clients might have gone elsewhere for "unsafe" services, so were being turned away if service providers "see signs of things" such as STIs.
Clients are being told kissing is not safe, but it "comes down to what the girls are willing to provide service wise".
Names would be taken in a discreet way and hand sanitiser use enforced, but Mrs Hammond said her team would ensure people would not feel "bombarded."
"We're such a highly regulated industry so the changes are not really going to affect our operations too much," she said.
"Interesting thing is, three or four guys can arrive here together by cab but once they come inside they must be 1.5m apart."
Mrs Hammond said during the shutdown they had kept in touch with a "lovely older gentleman".
"He comes in weekly, knows which girls are on and he bakes for them and brings coffee in a hot flask. He knows one of the girls is on gluten free so he makes something she can eat. Not all clients are about sexual activity, it's about company and routine and this is something many regulars haven't had for months."
Pentagon Grand manager Suzanne Pfeifer said her Molendinar operation had submitted COVID plans to the the Prostitution Licensing Authority, with kissing potentially off the menu.
"Ladies usually sit next to clients or shake hands in the introduction room. They won't be doing that anymore," she said.
"We had strict disinfection processes in place before COVID, taking non-contact temperatures of everyone who enters the building, disinfection of rooms and public areas, hand sanitiser available throughout the premises.
"Half of our clients have physical or intellectual disabilities and for them it was an essential service. Some wouldn't have known why they couldn't come to us.
"We have a few clients with depression. Not everyone comes in here for sex, some just want to hold someone and sit and talk for hours to a girl."
Ms Pfeifer expected to have lost some clients to escort services, but was confident they would be back because "you don't really know what you're going to get, they usually don't look like their advertisements".
"A lot of people who haven't thought of using a brothel are contacting us and they are looking for safe sex, because they know they'll get that here," she said.
Eight ladies working five rooms would still be operating across 24 hours, with Ms Pfeifer saying the brothel was not usually overloaded except on Friday and Saturday nights, but there were areas for clients to sit and wait while adhering to social distancing requirements.
Originally published as Coast brothels back in business