Firework sales start a day early this year because December 31 falls on a Sunday. From Thursday, fireworks fans can buy in for the New Year celebrations, even in cities such as Amsterdam where there is a nationwide ban.
In 2022, licenced firms sold €110 million worth of fireworks in the three day window ahead of the festivities.
The number of outlets has fallen again to 918, the AD reported on Thursday. In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, there were 1,387 places where fireworks can be bought. Of the 16 places where a total firework ban is in force, only Heemstede is without a licenced seller.
Fireworks can only be legally set off between December 31 at 6 pm and 2 am on January 1.
Some 50 local authority areas in the Netherlands now back a national ban on fireworks, news agency ANP said at the weekend, after asking 200 councils about their views.
In mid December, 30 out of 150 councils said they supported a national ban on consumer fireworks but just 16 out of 342 local authorities have actually pressed ahead.
Councils that back a national ban say it would give them more options to make sure that people don’t continue to set off fireworks, as currently happens in cities such as Amsterdam where all but the smallest consumer fireworks have been banned.
“Local bans just cannot be policed,” supporters of a national ban told the news agency. In addition, a ban in a small village leads firework fans to move on to the next location. “As long as consumer fireworks can be sold and possession is not an offence then it will be impossible to police a local ban,” a spokesman for Terneuzen in Zeeland said.
Police unions have also called for a national ban because of the dangers emergency service workers face during the annual New Year firework frenzy as well as the impossibility of policing a patchwork of different rules in different areas.
“This is particularly a problem given the current shortage of capacity within the police,” the four police unions said in a joint statement.
Last year the bans were widely ignored and just a handful of fines were handed out. In Amsterdam, where traditional firework chaos continued unabated, no fines at all were given to people who broke the ban.
Other towns and cities have introduced firework free zones, close to shopping centres, petting zoos and nursing homes. Some 40 local authorities have introduced firework-free areas, including The Hague.
Officially, Chinese firecrackers and rockets have been banned nationwide since 2020, as the government gradually restricted the availability of fireworks likely to cause damage and injury.
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