An iconic brothel in the German city of Cologne has been driven out of business by the continuing lockdown imposed to contain coronavirus.
The 11-floor, 9,000-square-metre Pascha is a well-known landmark in the western German city.
Before the pandemic it employed some 120 prostitutes, along with between 60 and 80 other staff members, including cleaners, cooks, hairdressers, masseurs and security guards.
Renowned as the largest brothel in the world, up to a thousand customers passed through its doors every day.
In normal times, the legal brothel had a turnover in the millions of Euros.
Prostitution in Germany is legal, as are other aspects of the sex industry, including brothels.
But for the past five months, since the pandemic took hold in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, prostitution has been banned.
While there has been some government aid provided, the brothel’s owners said it’s not enough to cover its six-figure operating costs.
Pascha’s director, Armin Lobscheid, has criticised the local authorities’ lack of clarity as to when the business would be allowed to reopen.
He said: “We were put off for a further two weeks every 14 days. We cannot plan like that."
The brothel had used up all its financial reserves before the 64-year-old presented Lobscheid Limited’s bankruptcy petition to the Cologne District Court on Tuesday September 1.
Mr Lobscheid said brothel closures are unlikely to stop prostitution but will force it underground – making it more dangerous for the women and untaxable for the government.
Creditreform, a leading German credit bureau, has warned of a large rise in bankruptcy filings from the fourth quarter onwards, as the fallout from the pandemic begins to pinch.
The fate of the iconic blue building of Pascha, which has been a brothel since it was first opened in 1972, is uncertain.
Due to the ongoing prostitution ban, it seems unlikely another brothel will take its place.
While there has been some speculation that the building could be repurposed as an hotel or as refugee accommodation there are as yet no firm plans in that direction.