Parliament on Wednesday rejected calls to ban firework sales to the general public but justice minister Ivo Opstelten said he would talk to local councils about setting up ‘firework-free zones’.
Every year dozens of people are seriously injured during the New Year festivities, which focus on fireworks at midnight.
Animal rights party PvdD wants a ban on firework sales because of the number of eye injuries, which ‘outstrip those in war zones’, news agency ANP reported. In Rotterdam alone, doctors treated 23 very serious eye injuries caused by fireworks this January.
Like most MPs, minister Opstelten said he did not favour a ban ‘because setting off fireworks is a long tradition and many people look forward to it’.
However, he pledged to find out if local councils have the power to ban fireworks in certain areas, such as close to nursing homes or other institutions.
Following last year’s New Year celebrations, the mayors of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague called for change.
Research by the environment ministry earlier this year showed 50% support for the Dutch New Year fireworks tradition with 49% opposed. But other polls have shown far greater support for a ban on sales to the public.
Fireworks can only be sold to the general public in the Netherlands for a few days before December 31.
Earlier, Opstelten reiterated the fact that people convicted of violence against the emergency services – particularly an issue during New Year – will face tougher sentences.
And he urged passersby to use their mobile phones to film any attacks they witness and hand them over to the police. People arrested during the New Year celebrations also face fast-track court hearings.
Arrests, injuries and car fires during New Year festivities
Big cities look for alternative to fireworks
Two-thirds support a firework ban
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