Most Germans are spending much more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. That means good news for some in the sex industry and bad news for others.
Rising sales figures at many online erotic shops suggest what some healthy Germans told to lock down at home are doing in some of their free time. But on the flip side, the crisis is hitting the livelihoods of many sex workers hard.
Sex toys, for example, are selling particularly well. The number of orders placed with the online erotic shop www.Eis.de has doubled since Covid-19 hit Germany in late Janaury, a company statement said. Vibrators are particularly popular at the moment.
A spokesperson for erotic outlet Orion said its online shop had also seen increased sales.
Sex therapist Ulrika Vogt is not surprised. Whether alone or with several people, "during sex, and especially during orgasm, a number of positive hormones are released. This gives people a self-confident feeling and calms them down, and that is especially important now," said Vogt.
People now have more time and could use it, among other things, to expand their own sexuality, "and perhaps also their toy collection".
Condom manufacturer Ritex has also noticed a sales boost from the pandemic in Germany.
"We have actually recorded a drastic increase in condom sales this month," a spokesperson said. Compared to the same month last year, sales have almost doubled. "Large packs have sold particularly strongly." Lubricant is also more in demand.
Berlin condom manufacturer Einhorn suspects that condoms are being hoarded in Germany in addition to items such as toilet paper. Since last weekend, the sales figures of fair trade condoms have been rising noticeably, a spokesperson said.
Pornography would also appear to have appealed more to some people during the crisis.
Erika Lust, a producer of feminist porn, has reported that more people are viewing her films than usual. Since the outbreak, streaming times on her platforms have increased by 20 to 30 per cent globally.
The erotic film website Pornhub announced a few days ago on Twitter that people living in Italy - which has been especially badly hit by the pandemic - will now receive free premium access until the beginning of April.
"This can really be a short-term calming measure at least," said sex therapist Vogt.
Many porn sites already have coronavirus subcategories in which performers wear mouth guards and plastic gloves, for example. Vogt said these are popular in Italy and Spain, which is also badly affected.
But for many sex workers in Germany and worldwide, the pandemic has had drastic consequences.
"I simply don't have a job," said German sex worker Marlen, who did not want to give her full name. She has some money saved and could at least take a few weeks off. But others cannot afford to, even though the German federal and state governments have decided to close brothels.
Australian Associated Press