It’s hit that time in the year where we reflect. Trips missed, changes to everyday life, and far less time spent with friends and family.
It’s also the time of year that Van Dale, the makers of the Dutch dictionary, picks a word of the year, and what a year it has been.
The options are seemingly endlessly depressing. Masks? Vaccine? Maybe even coronavirus have all become words that are uttered daily, but thankfully the winner is a little more cutesy.
You see, knuffelcontact ‘Cuddle contact’ has been voted the word of the year in Flanders.
A cuddle contact is a person, apart from any family members, whom you’re allowed to have close (physical) contact with. It was first used by Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke at a Consultative Committee press conference. The word even made international news.
The word won more than half of the 25,000 votes, coming in at 53.2%. The second and third place – ‘covidioot’ (covidiot) and ‘hoestschaamte’ (coughing shame) – were far behind, with 8.7% and 7.3% of the votes respectively.
Just as well the word wasn’t picked from the last month alone when another less wholesome phrase has taken over, but at least it gives me a lead into my next point. After news broke this weekend of another one, let me be very clear on this – you can’t have a sex party – more on that below.
With that, on with the news.
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Faced with mounting infection rates, Belgium once again could be facing strict measures on the run-up to the festive period, according to Federal Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke.
The latest figures – published Tuesday – show that the average number of new daily coronavirus infections in Belgium has risen for the third day in a row, and to Vandenbroucke, this acceleration opens up the potential need for further measures. Read more.
A Belgian bar owner has made headlines across the country after announcing that he would start his own religion in order to take advantage of current coronavirus rules allowing allows religious ceremonies, but forces bars to stay shut.
Xavier Troisi, owner of the Café Crayon in Ostend, took to Facebook to announce his revelations, which will in principle allow him to see 15 clients every Sunday.
“Followers, worshippers and other fans! Those who believe in Crayonism are now welcome to attend the service every Sunday at 11:00 AM,” Troisi, wrote in the purely satirical post. Read More.
Virologist Steven Van Gucht is this year’s winner of a prize honouring people who stood out for their use of clear and unambiguous language.
The Sciensano spokesperson caught the attention of Wablieft, the Centre for Clear Language, for his explanations about the coronavirus crisis. Van Gucht speaks at the National Crisis Centre’s press conference on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and often gives interviews to further explain certain aspects of the crisis and its evolution. Read more.
The rapid development of a coronavirus vaccine does not mean there is any inherent risk, and proper policy has been followed, according to Belgian health experts.
Facing several months focused on the Covid-19 vaccines and their administration, officials explained why – despite the accelerated development – they will be safe for use.
“If all goes well, the vaccines against the coronavirus, or at least some of them, will be developed and registered within only a year,” said virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht. Read More.