United Kingdom

Dutch prostitutes demand the right to get back to work as they protest against country's lockdown 

Sex workers descended upon the streets in the Netherlands today in protest against the government's coronavirus lockdown and to demand their right to go back to work.

Crowds of demonstrators gathered on the streets of The Hague with placards and set up a peep show outside parliament as they protested against the country's measures.

Elsewhere in Rotterdam, revellers were seen enjoying the weather outside a cafe as eateries across the nation set up their terraces, without serving, in protest against the country's restrictions.  

The scenes came just weeks after a Dutch court ordered the government to lift the country's 9pm Covid curfew after it sparked the Netherlands' worst rioting for decades.

Crowds of sex workers descend upon the streets of The Hague in the Netherlands today to demand their right to go back to work

A woman holds a placard as a group of Dutch sex workers demonstrate in The Hague today

Demonstrators hold signs as they campaign against the country's coronavirus restrictions

A sex worker from Arnhem, who identified herself as Melissa, said: 'We also have to pay rent just like any other person who works so why can everybody work except us.'

Sex workers are frustrated that they have been prevented from working while other 'contact professions' such as hairdressers, beauty salons and masseurs have been allowed to reopen from Wednesday.

The move, which the government last week called a risky relaxation strategy, came despite infection numbers starting to edge higher recently.

A woman, who used the name Moira Mona and who described herself as a dominatrix, said she could work further from her clients than a hairdresser.

She said: 'I can insult people from a distance and I have whips that are longer than scissors for cutting bangs. So I'll be fine.' 

Elsewhere in Rotterdam, revellers were seen enjoying the weather at an outdoor cafe table as eateries across the nation set up their terraces in protest against the coronavirus measures.

A group of sex workers display placards as they take to the streets and demanding their right to work

Demonstrators hold signs above their head as they join other businesses across the country in protest against the coronavirus restrictions

A protesters holds a placard and wears a face mask as they campaign against the restrictions 

One protester wore a gas mask as they demanded their right to work (left) while another carried a red umbrella as they walked through the streets (right)

A sex worker performs in a mobile peep show in The Hague, The Netherlands

Peter Bender, who runs De Ooievaar bar in Rotterdam, placed a cup of coffee and slice of apple pie in front of one of his guests.  

He said: 'We've waited long enough, we still don't see any perspective from the government.

'We have a ludicrous action - today dolls are sitting here, next week it will be real guests. We're really sick of it.'

The protests come amid growing lockdown fatigue not only in the Netherlands but across the European Union, where 531,000 people have died in the pandemic and governments are still attempting to rein in new infections while slowly ramping up the pace of vaccinations.

A protester prepares a peep show during the demonstration in The Hague today

Sex workers carry signs and wear masks as they protests against the coronavirus lockdown

A mobile peep is held in the city by one protester as businesses across the capital challenge the lockdown restrictions

More than 1,000 people gathered in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, on Sunday demanding an end to pandemic restrictions that have left the tourism and hospitality sectors at a standstill for nearly four months. 

Marches to denounce Covid restrictions have also been taking place in a scattered form across France and other countries.  

The pandemic has taken a brutal economic toll in the Netherlands.

Turnover at the country's accommodation and food services sector shrank by an unprecedented 33.9 per cent in 2020 due to the pandemic and lockdown measures, the national statistics office reported on Monday. 

In the final quarter of the year, as the lockdown was tightened again after a summer of eased measures, cafes saw their turnover decline by 70.4 per cent compared with the previous quarter.

Revellers enjoy the sun as they sit at a cafe terrace that has been put outside in Rotterdam, Netherlands

A cafe terrace is set up in Rotterdam in protest against the coronavirus lockdown measures 

Bar owners insist that they can reopen their terraces safely by enforcing social distancing and hygiene measures.

They have been spurred into action in part by recent scenes of large crowds of people packed into city parks enjoying unseasonably warm weather and largely ignoring social distancing measures.  

Last month, the 9pm curfew that was imposed in the Netherlands was overturned by a judge in The Hague, in a victory for anti-lockdown campaigners who had challenged the government's order.

The curfew was the first to be imposed in the Netherlands since the Nazi occupation in World War II. 

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