Annus horribilis: Here’s what Belgians will remember of 2020
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Annus horribilis: Here’s what Belgians will remember of 2020

The face mask will be with us for a long time. © Belga

The year 2020 was an anus horribilis if ever there was one, and before it’s even over, the people of Belgium have the souvenirs etched into their memories.

The RTBF carried out an informal and unscientific poll to find out what people will take away from this year. Here are some of the highlights [sic] with comments from those questioned.

Lack of contact and liberty: “The downside – if we have to pick one, would be at the social level. We used to have all of our weekends booked. We wound up suddenly and solely in our own family cocoon.” – Michel, 48, father of three.

“I got through it all right. What I missed was the lack of human contact. Covid has changed my habits. I no longer see my relatives.” – Gisèle, 62, retired.

The cancellation of opportunities for young people: “For months, I took all the necessary steps. I thought I would be leaving. We did not yet know the extent of the coronavirus. And on my birthday, I learned via an email that my trip was cancelled. It was demoralising because I had worked for four years to get good grades and have a chance to be selected.” – Clara, 22, would-be Erasmus student in Canada.

The end of the home/work frontier: “The second wave was psychologically too much. You never feel like you’re getting your head out of work, and home is no longer a place to disconnect.” – Charlotte, 35 and mother of two children.

The adoption, reluctantly, of new habits: “I would never have believed that we would experience this. We went from absolute freedom to a series of regulations and this, for the good of the population, I adopted. I wanted to show solidarity and m y lasting memory will be how today, I have hand sanitiser and a mask in my bag. These two objects have become essential in 2020.” – Narjess.

• “We are all affected in one way or another,” explains Olivier Luminet, health psychologist and member of the Psychology and Coronavirus working group.

At a minimum, this crisis involves a change in our habits. But these are situations of extreme isolation, of confrontation with situations of danger to oneself or of psychological distress, for example in hospital services. We are seeing a phenomenon of cumulative stress, and even those who are most spared, are still being exposed.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times