‘I’m terrified’: Sex worker fears for industry after COVID
GLADSTONE sex workers are struggling to "keep a roof over their head" after the industry was forced to shut down due to coronavirus.
A Gladstone escort who goes by the name Bella Angel fears the sex industry will never be allowed to operate again.
While Ms Angel has access to Centrelink and Newstart, she said most workers were not eligible for government assistance.
"It's a really bad place at the moment for working girls," Ms Angel said.
"There's a lot of girls who are going without money, they can't pay rent and they aren't eligible for any of the assistance packages.
"They are really struggling to keep a roof over their head."
Ms Angel said those who are successful receiving support are still struggling to make ends meet as the packages are not enough to support them.
"Everyone is trying to contribute what they can to help people buy food," she said.
"It's just not enough for anybody."
Under COVID-19 restrictions, sex work is only permitted if it is online or phone services.
While Ms Angel has considered online avenues, she said it was an unreliable source of income.
"Unless the girls are doing other avenues they are only getting a little bit of money," she said.
"I can't do certain services and I don't have internet connection … it's not guaranteed you earn anything."
Ms Angel said she is scared the Queensland Government will not allowed sex work to recommence.
"They haven't mentioned commencing sex work in stage one, stage two or stage three," she said.
"And there is no stage four, which means they probably have no intentions of reopening."
A Queensland Government health spokesperson has confirmed work involving close physical contact will be among the last areas to resume.
The spokesperson said it would not be until at least stage three when work could commence.
Stage three restrictions are expected to be lifted by July 10.
Respect Queensland state co-ordinator Elena Jeffreys said sex workers in New Zealand were able to return to work last week after stage two restrictions were lifted.
"Not having an end date for restrictions on sex work leaves sex workers under extreme levels of stress, unable to effectively manage their financial affairs, unable to plan beyond the restriction phase and basically left in the dark," Ms Jeffreys said.
Ms Angel believes the government's conservative views will make sex work commencement "very difficult and very uncertain".
"I'm terrified they will not let us work again," she said.
She said there is no reason sex work shouldn't be able to reopen alongside other personal service industries.
"We know that we are safe and are able to operate and work in a safe manner no different to any other person who does a personal service," she said.
"Sex work allows me to get off Centrelink and be able to work efficiently and be able to pay for things I need like dental.
"Our work is work."