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Belgium in Brief: Adopt An Expat For Christmas

Credit: Belga/Pexels/Wikimedia

December is in full swing, trees are appearing, lights are shining, and people are starting to come to the realisation that they might be staying in Belgium for the holidays.

That’s a big change for some, with people coming to terms with an unprecedented situation that they have absolutely no control over.

One person, however, is trying his hardest to make sure that nobody is left alone if they don’t have to be, letting families adopt an expat for Christmas.

The “Adopt me for Christmas” campaign looks to connect families with people looking for somewhere to spend Christmas based on language, diet and other requests.

Organiser Maxime Adam Levy explained to The Brussels Times that the idea for the campaign came from being in an uncertain situation himself. “My parents live in Montréal, and my uncle lives in Paris with whom I was supposed to spend Christmas,” he said. “I’m not sure if I will be able to cross the borders, or if my uncle is able to host me for Christmas.”

Due to the coronavirus restrictions, each family can only connect with one person, who will then become their so-called ‘cuddle contact’ adoptee.

Arrangements about quarantining or a negative coronavirus test can be made, but that’s up to the groups to decide once they are matched.

However, as Christmas is still three weeks away, here’s the news of today.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:



1. Will rules relax, who’s first? Vaccine questions answered

Belgium announced its coronavirus vaccination strategy on Thursday, with the main focus on the order of priority groups to receive the vaccine. A lot of questions, however, were left unanswered.

Who will get which vaccine, can the measures finally be lifted, and how long will it take before everyone is vaccinated? Click here to find out more.

2. Stranded Brussels expats want adopted for Christmas Day

Expats in Brussels are facing a difficult decision this year regarding the Christmas period, with many facing a looming possibility that they can’t go home, but lack the family structure here to have someone to spend it with.

One Brussels expat, however, is hoping to change that with the “Adopt me for Christmas” campaign, which looks to connect families with people looking for somewhere to spend Christmas. Read More.

3. Belgium’s coronavirus deaths rise above 17,000

While all coronavirus indicators continue to drop, Belgium has now counted over 17,000 deaths since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Friday.

Between 25 and 30 November, an average of 2,208.4 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 24% decrease compared to the week before. Read more.

4. Brussels reaches agreement on kilometre tax for drivers

The Brussels Government reached an agreement on a proposal for a so-called smart kilometre tax, it announced on Thursday.

Under the new plan, taxation will not be based on ownership of a vehicle but rather on the number of kilometres driven within the region, with the goal of reducing traffic jams in the city and making Brussels a healthier place. Read More.

5. Government refuses recognition for Great Mosque

Federal justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) has declined to grant a new recognition to the Great Mosque in the Cinquantenaire park in Brussels, unless there is a change of management.

The Great Mosque had its recognition as a local faith community withdrawn last year after it was found to be under the influence of the Saudi Arabian government, responsible for the propagation of Salafist theology, seen as being extremist.

The new application for recognition was supported by the main Muslim representative organisations, but was nevertheless turned down. Read more.

6. Belgium is third most taxed country in Europe, OECD study shows

Belgium is the third-most taxed country in Europe, a new study by the OECD based on figures from 2019 shows.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development measures the sum of taxes and social contributions in relations to countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

That leaves Belgium at 42.9%. While it is a drop compared to 2018 (43.9%), only France (45.5%) and Denmark (46.3%) tax their population more. Read More.

7. Washington Post mocks Belgium’s Christmas toilet rule

The US newspaper The Washington Post mocked Belgium’s coronavirus measure stating that only one guest can use the toilet at upcoming Christmas celebrations.

The newspaper reported on the fact that Belgium’s four-person rule also applies at Christmas if gatherings take place outdoors, but, the paper said, “only one lucky guest will be allowed to use the bathroom, if the government has any say in the matter.” Read More.

Jules Johnston & Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times