Amsterdam city council has decided not to press ahead with a ban on consumer fireworks during this year’s New Year celebrations because of the coronavirus crisis.
City officials say they have taken the decision because it will be ‘complex and intensive’ for wardens to enforce a firework ban alongside social distancing regulations.
In addition, the coronavirus rules may not allow local celebrations, which were supposed to be a substitute for the current free-for-all, to go ahead. Officials are working on some form of ‘central celebration’ but the details are still being worked out.
The legal and financial implications of a ban also pose a risk, officials say, given that firework sellers have announced they plan to take legal action against the ban.
Nationwide, a ban on the sale of more dangerous fireworks, including firecrackers and rockets, is being brought in from this year and this should mean there will be fewer problems in the city anyway, the council statement said.
Rotterdam does plan to enforce a ban on consumer fireworks this year, a spokesman told broadcaster NOS.
Two people died and almost 1,300 people were treated for firework-related injuries during this year’s New Year celebrations, according to public safety research group VeiligheidNL.
In Amsterdam the damage to council property was put at some €500,000. Some 150 rubbish bins and 50 traffic signs were vandalised during the festivities and one children’s playground required a €25,000 clean-up.
Johnas van Lammeren, leader of the pro-animal party PvdD in Amsterdam, said the council decision shows the firework ban is not the mayor’s priority.
‘The firework ban is being continually delayed,’ he said. ‘Amsterdam officials have had three years to limit fireworks in Amsterdam. The bottom line is that the mayor is not in control of enforcement in the city.’
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