Belgium Allows Everyone To Have A Cuddle Buddy Under New Lockdown Rules
Belgium has entered into another national lockdown. Don’t worry though, you can still have a ‘cuddle buddy’.
The European country has seen more than 501,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, as well as 13,055 deaths. Due to the rising numbers, strict restrictions have been re-introduced, such as supermarkets only selling essential goods and limits on gatherings in public spaces.
Last week, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told reporters, ‘Our country is in a state of emergency.’ In order to help its citizens through lockdown, ‘cuddle buddies’ have been permitted.
Similar measures have been implemented in other countries. In the UK, exclusive ‘support bubbles’ are allowed for adults who live alone. In the Netherlands, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment advised the public to ‘meet with the same person to have physical or sexual contact’, such as a ‘cuddle buddy or sex buddy’.
In Belgium, those who are craving physical contact are entitled to a ‘knuffelcontact’, translating to ‘hug contact’.
The government regulations explain, ‘Each family member is entitled to one hug contact. Families should only invite one hug contact at a time at home. One cannot receive another visit at home.’
Hoping to help people’s mental health during lockdown, those who live alone are allowed one extra ‘knuffelcontact’. However, they cannot see both at the same time.
An ongoing survey by the University of Antwerp has found alarming rates of people struggling with mental health in Belgium, with a downward trend towards levels experienced during the initial spike in March.
Dr. Filip Raes, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Leuven, told Vice, ‘During the first lockdown, several studies concluded that there was a significant rise in depression and anxiety. It was an especially difficult time for those who were alone.’
In that light, I think it’s a really good idea that people can have an extra knuffelcontact, as long as they stick to this rule and maintain the same contact like they are supposed to.
We are a social species and we need other people around us to stay healthy, and therefore, from a clinical perspective, it is extremely important that we allow people at least a modicum of intimate social contact. The balance is a difficult one to strike, but in my opinion, in this particular case the benefits outweigh the potential cost.
However, while ‘cuddle buddies’ are a thoughtful inclusion on the new restrictions, those who are really struggling with their mental health are still encouraged to reach out to a professional for help.
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University of Antwerp