‘No older men or oral sex’: How Swiss brothels are responding to the coronavirus

Allowed to open for two weeks, Switzerland’s brothels have put in place a range of changes to minimise coronavirus transmission, including banning older men and ‘face services’.

‘No older men or oral sex’: How Swiss brothels are responding to the coronavirus
A sex worker walks past a car at the Boulevard de Suisse in Toulouse, southwestern France. Photo: REMY GABALDA / AFP

In an interview with Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes, the proprietor of a brothel in the central Swiss canton of Zug said a number of changes had been adopted, including not admitting anyone in a vulnerable category and requiring phone numbers of all customers. 

Christian A. Gärtner, who runs Luxescort in Zug, told 20 Minutes that the coronavirus had changed not only the types of services which were offered – but also the requests made by customers. 

‘More talking, less sex’

After an almost three-month layoff, Switzerland’s brothels were allowed to reopen on June 8th. 

Gärtner said that demand was high early on, with “men waiting in line” for an appointment. Although visitor numbers are now roughly the same as they were pre-corona, things look quite different inside Switzerland’s brothels. 

READ: What coronavirus restrictions have been eased? 

Gärtner said that demand for sex had fallen, with talking and massages more popular than before the pandemic. 

“Less sexual intercourse is required. At the moment, more men want to have body massages and talks,” he said. 

Another change is that men from risk groups would no longer be admitted, i.e. those over 65 or with pre-existing health risks. 

“This is not discriminatory. This is how we protect people who are susceptible to Covid-19.”

Phone numbers are also mandatory as a condition of traceability. 

“Traceability is important to us and that's why all customers have to leave their phone number when booking. Without this there is no sex,” Gärtner said. 

‘No face-services and a two-person max’

The brothel’s website provides an updated list of rules that workers and customers must comply with. 

While condoms must be worn for all sexual services, face masks are only recommended or all participants – which mirrors the government’s advice that masks are recommended rather than required. 

The concept also encourages positions where “risk of droplet transmission is low” and there is a forearm’s distance between participants’ heads. 

Only one customer at a time is allowed to participate, while a maximum of two sex workers has been put in place. 

In addition, rooms will be ventilated for at least 15 minutes after each customer visit, while sheets will also be washed after each visit. 

Gloves, condoms and disinfectants would also be employed in all facilities, although Gärtner said workers will only wear gloves if they have cuts or sores on their hands. 

Gärtner said that although the mask requirement “made the physical work difficult… customers take the concept seriously and have reacted positively”. 

‘Protection concept’

In order to reopen after the coronavirus lockdown, businesses in Switzerland need to provide a ‘protection concept’ which shows how they will comply with distancing and hygiene regulations to stop the spread of the virus. 

This also applies to brothels and sex workers. 

As reported by The Local Switzerland in May, the association representing Switzerland’s sex workers presented a protection concept which laid out how transmission would be minimised in order to allow them to reopen. 

READ: Swiss brothels outline list of coronavirus-safe sex positions in a bid to end lockdown 

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Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here.