One of the country's oldest professions is facing looming uncertainty, as the majority of physical sex work remains on hold due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective's national co-ordinator has warned that sex workers are particularly vulnerable to the economic effects of the outbreak because most of their work involves close physical contact.

Dame Catherine Healy said many were anxious to seek Government assistance because they didn't want to be associated with the industry or were nervous because they hadn't been compliant with their taxes.

"We suspect sex workers will be one of the last groups [that can work again], we suspect it will need to be a level one before usual sex work can continue."


She said the sex workers she had spoken to had been followed the lockdown rules, despite some clients trying to push the boundaries and asking workers to flout the level four restrictions.

Official advice from the organisation was that sex workers should contact them to arrange alternative income either through Work and Income or the wage subsidy scheme, however, some sex workers wanted to keep working and had moved online to make ends meet.

"Some of them of course were already involved in non-contact sex-work services, like camcording services and so on, but some of them have picked this up for the first time. I was talking to a sex worker who had developed a peep show scenario."

COVID-19 takes a toll in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, where social distance and health practices are impossible. Video / CNN

"It's really important that people understand things like privacy, its not something you should pick up without giving it consideration, there are pitfalls and there are benefits."

Healy said it "wasn't going to rain money" and the sex workers she'd spoken to warned it wasn't the greatest way to make a lot of money overnight.

As well as moving digitally, Healy said one had even "joined bubbles" with a client for the lockdown period, both were in singular bubbles.