The following information is drawn from many resources about general safer sex practices during the pandemic.
“In a nutshell, if you’re feeling fine and have no symptoms of COVID-19, you can still have sex. If you’re feeling sick, skip sex. However, we know that it’s just not that simple for those of us cut out of financial programs like CERB (here in
Canada) and any other form of life allowances or support.”
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory infection caused by a newly identified virus. The infection has symptoms similar to other respiratory illnesses, including the flu and common cold: cough, sneezing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms can include fatigue, muscle aches, diarrhea, headache or lost sense of smell. While most people infected with COVID-19 experience only mild illness, severe illness can occur in some people, especially in those with weaker immune systems, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.
How is COVID-19 Spread?
COVID-19 is spread through liquid droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus in these droplets can enter through the eyes, nose or mouth of another person if they are in close contact with the person who coughed or sneezed. COVID-19 mat travel through particles in the air but is not something that can enter the body through the skin.
Where can I get more Information about COVID-19?
The province of British Columbia has created a phone service to provide nonmedical information about COVID-19 which is available from 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. at 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268- 4319) or via text message at 604-630-0300. More information on COVID-19 can also be found online:
Vancouver Coastal Health http://www.vch.ca/covid-19
BC Centre for Disease Control http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19
Sex is very important for mental, social and physical well-being; it is a part of everyday life. People can, will and should continue to have sex during the COVID-19 pandemic. We most certainly know that messages discouraging or shaming people from sexual contact can be harmful and may discourage people from seeking essential sexual health services.
You should always make informed and consensual decisions about sex. We would like to share some tips and strategies to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 to you, your partner(s) and your community.
Sex and the Spread
The COVID-19 virus is spread by liquid droplets in saliva and respiratory (breathing) fluids whether you are engaged in sexual activity or not. It can also be passed by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the face, eyes, nose, or mouth.
The virus has been found in semen and feces (poop). It is not yet known if the virus is found in blood or internal genitalia/vaginal fluids. It is not yet clear if the virus can be transmitted through sex. You are your safest sex partner; your next-safest sex partner(s) is/are the person(s) you live with, or the person(s) who has close contact with only you and no one else.
If you’re feeling sick, try to skip sex
You should not have sex with anyone if you or your partner(s) has:
- Symptoms of COVID-19,
- Been a contact of, or had exposure to, a known case of COVID-19, or
- Been advised to self-isolate.
If you’re feeling well and have no symptoms of COVID-19, you can have sex.
Guidance for sex workers and clients
COVID-19: Guidance for sex workers (English)
COVID-19: Guidance for sex workers – poster (English)
COVID-19: Guidance for clients of sex workers (English)
COVID-19: 性工作者指南(中文| Simplified Chinese)
COVID-19: Guía para sexoservidores (Español | Spanish)
Visit NYC Health Department for more information on safer sex and COVID-19.
Visit the Smart Sex Resource for more information on STI and HIV treatment and prevention.
Federal and Provincial government are offering many pandemic financial supports.
The government of Canada CERB program has ended and has been replace with a new program called the Canadian Recovery Benefit. Follow the links below to see if you are eligible and to submit an application;
Provincial governments are also offering financial supports via rent subsidy programs and recovery benefits. Visit your provincial government website to find what programs are available and if you need assistance you can call them directly or we can try to help you.
In British Columbia, the government are currently offering several programs;
Apply now for the BC Recovery Benefit, a one-time, tax-free payment of up to $1,000 for eligible families and single parents and up to $500 for eligible individuals. You have until June 30, 2021 to apply.
There is a program for rent assistance in BC but it not COVID-19 related.
If none of these programs work for you, you can still apply for social assistance, When apply for social assistance, you must first complete on-line applications. Then staff will contact you and confirm your information and eligibility while finalizing your application.
If you need help and are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help you!
The pandemic lock downs and social contact restrictions can leave us feeling isolated and lonely. On top of that loss of work or closure places where we work can leave us feeling vulnerable and financially unstable. All of this takes an emotional toll on us and can impact our emotional health.
If you are feeling strained and need to talk to someone, you can find some connections here;
Here are some other ways you can try to improve your emotional health;
- Try a hobby – painting, scrap booking, something creative that will allow you to express your- self.
- Try therapy. Many entertainers, because they are creative, prefer art therapy or other alternative therapies to more traditional ones. There are community-based counseling and therapy options that are low cost or free, although many may have waiting lists. Check with your doctor or a community health clinic for more information on free or inexpensive services.
- Do things you’re good at that are separate from your work. You may be an incredible pole dancer, but what can you do off the pole? Are you a chef? A mechanic? A website designer? Nur- ture an identity of yourself that is separate from your role as a sex industry worker. We are not our jobs, after all. (Although it can sometimes seem like it in this field.)
- Take long walks, get out of your workspace, and get fresh air. Go bike riding or swimming on occasion.
- Redecorating your play space can be therapeutic.
- Write an anonymous blog.
- Write poetry, paint, or make sculptures.
- Listen to music.
- Lift weights.
- Watch inspiring movies.
- Beading/ crafts
- Crocheting / Knitting / Sewing
- Structure your life to include a balance of a little bit of everything.
- Keep a journal and write down your thoughts. Get what’s in – out!
- Honey and salt body washes once a week.
- Take art classes.
- Read a novel.
- Eat well, exercise, and get lots of sleep every day.
- Debrief with a friend after particularly stressful situations.
For Business Owners / Safe Work Space Operators
Many members of our community rely on sex industry businesses for safe spaces to work. Lock downs and closure of these businesses has placed many at risk.
We would like to support you and your business in remaining open or re-opening after the lock downs have ended.
We want you to know we appreciate everything you do to keep sex workers safe and will do everything we can to ensure you can still operate and remain in business providing safer indoor sex work spaces.
Business Opening Plans
All sex industry businesses will be required to develop a “written opening plan” which fits the needs of their particular space and outlines how you as business operator will address each of the six areas of concern for Worksafe and Health Inspectors. If you need help with your opening plan please do not hesitate to contact us;
Critical Safety Components
Sex work presents some unique challenges in prevention of transmission of COVID-19. There are some actions which are critical in ensuring the lowest chance of transmission;
- Hard screening of both clients and workers – using the BC Centre for Disease Control self assessment tool – https://bc.thrive.health/covid19/en – This tool is available in multi- ple languages. This is seen as an important measure to protect yourself, your staff and patrons from transmission.
- Minimizing Facial Contact – COVID-19 is a respiratory infection so minimizing close contact face to face with clients or other staff members is key to preventing the spread.
- Physical Distancing in Staff Areas – has been an issue across all industries and as such enhanced cleaning and physical distancing measures are critical in these spaces.
While these critical guidelines are important, some of the guidelines outlined at the links below may not apply too you or your business and that is ok. Each business should create their own “written safety plan” which includes the ways you intend to address the critical areas of concern and the following 6 areas of consideration.
Exotic Show Lounges
If you are an Exotic Show Lounge Operator there are guidelines in place for your operation as a Pub/ Food Service establishment as your business falls into this category with a few extra con- siderations for exotic dancing. You can find more information about the food and drink service protocols at this link;
A combination of those requirements and the following sex industry specific guidelines you should be able to create a “written safety plan” which protects you, your employees and your patrons.
You can find the Exotic Show Lounge Opening Guidelines here;
Health Enhancement Centers
If you are a Health Enhancement Center Operator, there are a number of areas which inspectors will be looking for in your “written safety plan” to ensure you are meeting expectations for pre- venting the spread of COVID-19. Health Enhancement Centers fall into the “Personal Services” category so you should also consider and protocols in place for your industry sector.
The following guidelines will provide you with suggestions for ways you can protect yourself, your employees and your clients.
You can find the Health Enhancement Center Opening Guidelines here;
The following recommendations can guide your planning for protection against COVID-19 Infection while you work. These are recommendations and everyone will create different plans which suit their individual needs. You can also refer to the Business Operators guidelines for further information or reach out to us with any questions you have about protecting yourself, your clients and your family.
- Enhanced cleaning procedures – disinfect all surfaces in the work area, disinfect all surfaces including shower, chairs, massage tables and any other areas the client has come into contact with before and after each appointment.
- It is recommended that all clients shower upon entering and before the appointment begins.
- It is recommended that service providers should shower after each client.
- Clean work room surfaces using a disinfectant sufficient to remove all trace of the virus in between each customer.
- Ensure no more than one client is in the work area at a time. Group appointments are not recommended at this time.
- It is recommended that you book appointments with enough time in between to prevent close contact between your clients
- Using a “no contact” thermometer, you can test all clients for fever before entering you work area. Just inside the door is sufficient and will still respect confidentiality.
- It is recommended to wear a face shield or mask and gloves when interacting with clients
- Change gloves, change mask and/or clean face shield using disinfectant sufficient to remove all trace of the virus between clients.
- Because the virus maybe transmitted via saliva – kissing or unprotected oral ( BBBJ, DATY ) are not recommended
- Because it is unknown if the virus may be transmitted via semen or vaginal fluids, it is recommended that a condom be used for all intimate contact at this time.
Sex Industry Clients
We know that this time can be very difficult for our clients especially for those who live alone and rely on our companionship. We want you to know we are thinking about you hope you are managing during this incredible time.
Clients will have different comfort levels with COVID-19 exposure and some of you will continue to visit while others abstain completely.
Workers and businesses are doing everything we can to protect your health when you visit us and place your safety as our top priority.
We have put together some information for you about COVID-19 and your health as well as ways you can enjoy our services safely.
It should be noted that if a sex industry business client or worker test positive for COVID-19 that business can be closed for cleaning and the staff can be quarantined if they have been exposed.
Our intent with the procedures detailed here is to ensure minimal exposure for clients and workers.
No plan is perfect and compliance will be difficult to monitor. However, the majority of workers and business owners are ethical and want to protect themselves, their staff and clients from po- tential COVID-19 exposure.
We are grateful for support, information and the focus on sex worker safety by those providing health information about the risks we face. The openness to collaborate and to work to find solutions which allowed sex industry businesses to remain open
Your safety, and sanity are of great concern to us here at the BCCEC and TNT so please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.
For their most appreciated support we would like to thank
The Canadian Women’s Foundation
The City of Vancouver
South Vancouver Crime Prevention Society