Sunday 07 August 2022

Belgian border towns busy with firework-mad Dutch, despite the ban

Firework fans queue up in Baarle-Hertog. Photo: Jeffery Groenwegen ANP

Dutch nationals have been flocking to Belgium to buy fireworks, despite the New Year ban, according to the Telegraaf.

Traffic regulators have even been brought in to deal with the number of cars in the towns of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog, which share a complicated network of borders, the paper said.

A local farmer has opened up his fields as an emergency car park for the Dutch visitors who have not been allowed by law to import fireworks into the Netherlands since December 15.

But two youngsters from Zwolle told the paper that ‘fireworks are part of New Year’. Another young man from Breda said: ‘You set off fireworks outside and everyone keeps their distance. Surely it should be allowed.’

The Dutch government has banned fireworks this New Year in an effort to make sure that hospitals are not overwhelmed with burns victims. In 2019 almost 1,300 people went to hospitals or their family doctor with firework-related injuries inflicted at New Year.

Police

Police are carrying out border checks, the Telegraaf said, but on Monday afternoon and evening there was no-one to be seen.

‘Yesterday the Dutch police were delighted about finding 100 kilos of fireworks,’ the traffic regulator told the paper. ‘But that is what leaves the shop every minute. Tonnes are going over the border.’

In a normal year, the Dutch can import 25 kilos of fireworks from Belgium or Germany, as long as the fireworks are legal.

The government tightened the rules on fireworks earlier in 2020 to ban the most dangerous types, including rockets and firecrackers.

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