It’s up to sex workers whether or not to ask clients for proof of COVID-19 vaccination, says B.C. advocate

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      Starting on September 13, British Columbians have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before they get into restaurants, bars, theatres, gyms, and other non-essential services.

      How about sexual services?

      The Straight sought the Triple-X Workers’ Solidarity Association of B.C. for its take on this.

      In a phone interview, president and spokesperson Andrew Sorfleet stressed that his organization complies with provincial health guidance and regulations.

      “And so following from that, what I would say is that in fact, sex work businesses are essential businesses, because they’re personal care businesses, no different than people who do manicures or hairdressers or maybe retail outlets,” Sorfleet said.

      He went on to point out that there are “lots of businesses that are exempt from having to ask for the proof of vaccination certificate”.

      “And I would say that sex work falls within that category. I know some people might not agree,” Sorfleet told the Straight.

      To add to this, Sorfleet noted that sex workers “for decades have been implementing risk-reduction strategies for all kinds of infectious diseases that protect both the worker and the client”.

      “Sex workers are no strangers to this thing. COVID is no different. People who have been working do have risk reduction strategies in place, safety strategies for their businesses in place,” he said.

      “And if sex workers wanted to do something like vaccine proof … that would up to be them to add to their own safety protocols,” Sorfleet said.

      The Straight asked the Triple-X leader to confirm that it’s up to the personal discretion of a sex worker to require a client to prove COVID-19 vaccination.

      “Yes. I would say yes, and there are other considerations of course. You know that businesses like restaurants and so on, some of them…embrace it and some of them are quite anxious about…needing security.”

      “And how do you deal with angry customers and all? This is kind of being downloaded on to the business owner to enforce, and…some sex workers may feel that that is not maybe [in] the best interest of their safety either,” Sorfleet said.

      He also said in addition to proof of vaccination, the province will also require patrons in non-essential services to show a government-issued ID.

      “You know identities and identification is an issue in the sex industry,” Sorfleet said, noting that clients want to maintain their “privacy”.

      Sorfleet stated that Triple-X as an organization is not making a recommendation to members for or against requiring clients for proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

      "It’s a very diverse community, and there are a lot of opinions on every side, so you would never find a consensus on that,” he said.

      On May 3, 2020, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control issued guides for sex workers and clients.

      The BCCDC suggested avoiding in-person sex work.

      It recommended web-, phone-, or text-based services.

      The public health agency also recommended avoiding kissing, saliva exchange, mouth contact on skin or anus, and putting objects in the mouth, including fingers.

      Instead, BCCDC suggested erotic massage, strip tease, and sexual positions that minimize face-to-face contact.

      It advised against direct contact with bodily fluids, and recommended condoms, dental dams and gloves.