Most people kept to the rules for New Year, justice minister says

Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus talks to the press. Photo: Robin Utrecht ANP
Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus talks to the press. Photo: Robin Utrecht ANP

Most people kept to the coronavirus rules and stayed home to celebrate New Year in small groups, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus has told reporters.

The problems in some places were largely down to a small group of persistent troublemakers who ‘don’t stick to the rules at all,’ Grapperhaus said.

‘The overwhelming majority of people did an excellent job,’ Grapperhaus said. ‘Playing scrabble has become the national sport again.’

There was also less violence directed at emergency service workers, Grapperhaus said.

Police chief Henk van Essen said earlier that it was a busy night, but that there were no major incidents. ‘Nevertheless, police and other emergency service workers were confronted with aggression and violence in some places, and fireworks were thrown at them,’ he said. ‘This is, and remains, unacceptable.’

The firework ban was widely ignored, but officials seized 116 tonnes of fireworks in the run up to the celebrations, the public prosecution department said. This is almost twice the 2019 total.

The aim of the firework ban was primarily to spare the health service the problem of dealing with firework-related injuries on top of coronavirus.

However, Hubert Bruls, head of the regional safety board association, has said the ban should be now made permanent. Grapperhaus told reporters it is too early to draw definitive conclusions.

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