Mandatory contact tracing in Zurich brothels stirs controversy

A lawyer for the Zurich sex industry is taking legal action against new tracing rules being implemented for prostitutes working in the Swiss canton.

Mandatory contact tracing in Zurich brothels stirs controversy
A prostitute walks by 'sex boxes' which Zurich set for their safety. Photo by AFP

Starting on October 1st, Zurich has mandated stricter protection rules in the brothels.

Sex workers must now not only collect their customers’ ID and contact details, but also check on the spot whether the cell phone numbers provided by the clients are correct.

But Valentin Landmann, a legal counsel for Zurich’s sex work industry, filed an appeal against the new regulations, claiming they “violate the principle of equality”.

“These conditions are more extreme than in any other profession involving physical contact”, he told SRF television in an interview.

Landmann added that stricter measures are not necessary in the sex trade.

“The normal protection concepts are already being observed. So far, there have been no coronavirus cases in legal companies”.

However, Zurich authorities see it differently.

The cantonal director of security Mario Fehr told SRF that the new measures are necessary to ensure effective contact tracing, so that clients can be informed in case a coronavirus infection occurs in the brothel.

He added that if establishments fail to adhere to the requirements “we will close these businesses”.

READ MORE: Five things about Switzerland that may surprise foreign residents 

Prostitution is legal in Switzerland and considered as a ‘regular’ service industry, with the same rights and obligations as other sectors, including declaring income and paying taxes.

In May, the brothels implemented safety rules for workers and clients to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infections. 

The measures include ventilation in rooms, the use of gloves, condoms and disinfectants, and washing of sheets after each client. 

Also, sessions should be kept to a maximum of 15 minutes, and kissing – which was already rare before the measures came into place – is strongly discouraged.

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Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?