As brothels close, sex workers go online to beat coronavirus
One of Darwin's most famous brothel madams expects up to 40 per cent of sex work businesses in the NT will be wiped out by coronavirus restrictions.
The Chief Health Officer has advised that all sex work not conducted electronically or online would be prohibited in the NT as of Thursday, April 2.
Darwin brothel madam Mary-Anne Kenworthy from Langtrees said she had shut down and sent everyone home.
"I think this close-down will collapse at least 35 to 40 per cent of all sex businesses," she said.
"The girls will all spread out and money is going to be as tight as hell so there won't be as many customers.
"I don't think many Darwin escorts know about these new restrictions and are going to get themselves into trouble.
"There are also lot of girls here from Asia who aren't fluent in English, so I think the message needs to be made a lot clearer for the sake of their own health as well as others."
In the NT, sex workers and any other business found to be breaking the new health orders could face a fine of $5495. The maximum penalty is $62,800.
Madam Kenworthy said all the women in her brothel were now working from home and moving to online and phone services.
"A lot of the girls have gone online and they do video cams and that but it can be hard to be successful with that," she said.
"We've tried it and I'm pleased because people need company in lonely times.
"During isolation you've got a lot of people sitting in their homes with nobody to talk to."
Health Minister Natasha Fyles said sex workers like many NT businesses would have to adapt and adhere to the new rules.
"There is no exemptions just because work is required to have physical contact," she said.
"The Sex Worker Outreach Program (SWAP) do a lot of outreach and will be making sure workers in the Territory understand these new regulations."
Originally published as NT sex work industry faces massive downturn