Last month, Antonio Guadagnini, a Conservative councilor in the Veneto region, said reopening brothels — illegal in Italy since 1958 — and regulating prostitution would protect society. In Sicily, Ruggero Razza, the top regional health official, said that authorities should reflect on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in high-risk, unregulated occupations such as sex work.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 3, 2020
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
Should I refinance my mortgage?
- It could be a good idea, because mortgage rates have never been lower. Refinancing requests have pushed mortgage applications to some of the highest levels since 2008, so be prepared to get in line. But defaults are also up, so if you’re thinking about buying a home, be aware that some lenders have tightened their standards.
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
“Once again we were excluded from the system,” said Pia Covre, a former sex worker and the founder of the Committee for the Civil Rights of Prostitutes, which promotes the legal recognition and regulation of sex work.
She added that, after being excluded from government economic support, sex workers were also deprived regular coronavirus tests and the opportunity to keep a record of their clients for contact tracing.
The regulation of sex work is opposed by those who argue that it would lead to more exploitation and human trafficking. The pandemic, they say, hasn’t changed that.
Senator Alessandra Maiorino, the spokeswoman for the Five Star Movement, Italy’s governing political party, has said that up to 90 percent of sex workers are victims of human trafficking. Last June she signed a petition to demand that Escort Advisor, Europe’s largest sex worker review website, be shut down.
She and others argue that hitting demand is the only way to end prostitution while also protecting victims of human trafficking. But rights organizations claim that abolition would only put sex workers more in danger by pushing the industry underground.
Francesca Bettio, a professor of economics at the University of Siena who specializes in issues related to sex work and human trafficking, said that the regulations in the Netherlands and Germany, while better than those in Italy, are not perfect.