Amsterdam is pressing ahead with plans to ban consumer fireworks during the New Year festivities but officials admit it would ‘not be realistic’ to imagine the city will be without them.
The aim is to ‘phase out’ the current tradition by ‘offering alternatives and using a variety of methods to counteract the use consumer fireworks’, mayor Femke Halsema has said in a briefing to city councillors.
‘The first year of the local firework ban should be seen as a year of transition,’ Halsema said. Research shows 77% of Amsterdammers consider it important to reduce the nuisance caused by fireworks and 89% never set them off anyway.
City councillors voted in favour of a ban in April last year but the idea was dropped because of the impossibility of policing during the pandemic. Local bylaws have now been amended to ban the use of fireworks, although consumers will still be able to buy them from licenced sellers.
The city is organizing an ‘spectacular’ on the Museumplein, together with festival organisers and ‘the club scene’ which will end in a firework show at midnight and a performance by a ‘really top act’. Officials hope the event will attract 10,000 people – as long as the coronavirus measures allow it.
The city’s borough councils will also organise local, professional firework shows, Halsema said in her briefing.
City officials will decide in November if the coronavirus situation is good enough to allow the events to go ahead.
Amsterdam is the third of the big Dutch cities to bring in a firework ban. Rotterdam and Nijmegen have already said they will ban consumer fireworks entirely, while Utrecht will do so next year.
The Hague, Breda, Tilburg, Almere and Groningen will still allow consumers to set off fireworks, but will also expand the number of firework free zones, Nu.nl said.
Eindhoven has not yet taken a decision.
A nationwide ban on the sale of more dangerous fireworks, including firecrackers and rockets, was introduced last year, and further restrictions were also imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nevertheless, the ban was widely flouted and hundreds of people were injured and dozens of cars set on fire. However, the police and the emergency services were called out some 30% fewer times than during ‘normal’ New Year celebrations, officials said.
Last year’s New Year fireworks ban also resulted in a 70% drop in firework related injuries.
Despite the bans the pyrotechnic sector say expects sales this year to be back at 2019 levels, when consumers spent €77m on fireworks.
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