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Dutch set to end Covid curbs on sex work, zoos

The Netherlands expects to further relax coronavirus restrictions next week, giving the green light to sex workers and zoos so long as cases keep falling, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Tuesday.

Dutch gyms, swimming pools and amusement parks will also be allowed to reopen on May 19, while cafes and restaurants with outdoor terraces that restarted last week will be permitted longer opening hours.

Rutte said there was “one condition” which was that intensive care and hospital admissions must have fallen further by May 17, otherwise the “pause button is pressed”.

“We don’t think it will come to that, but we have to take it into account,” Rutte told a press conference.

“We want nothing more than to give space to society, but we also do not want to make mistakes, just before the finish.”

The lifting of the ban on sex work will be a major boost to Amsterdam’s famed Red Light district, which has been effectively shuttered since October.

Sex workers are the last of the so-called “contact professions” including hairdressers that have been allowed to reopen in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands, with a population of 17 million, has administered six million vaccinations and the government said it “expects that the number of new hospital admissions will now continue to decline rapidly.”

Dutch health authorities have recorded 17,383 deaths from coronavirus and 1.57 million infections since the start of the pandemic. It reported 47,108 infections last week, down 10 percent on the previous week.