Thursday 18 August 2022

Dutch gear up to celebrate the New Year but fireworks and fires remain an issue

New Year fireworks in Amsterdam. Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Netherlands is gearing up to celebrate the New Year on Friday, on what is already the warmest December 31 on record.

The government has banned the use of most fireworks, including organised displays, this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and urged people to celebrate in small groups. Nevertheless, the Dutch have been flocking to Belgium to buy stock ahead of the New Year festivities.

According to research by Nu.nl, the number of reports of fireworks nuisance already made in the biggest Dutch cities is down on 2020, although the total is up considerably in Tilburg and Breda.

In Breda police have received almost 3,000 complaints about fireworks so far, up 40% on last year. In Tilburg, complaints have reached almost 1,300, compared with below 300 in the past few years.

Police were involved in several incidents overnight, particularly in Veen, in Brabant, where at least six car wrecks were set on fire. In Anjum, in Friesland, riot police were drafted in to break up gangs of youths who were setting fires.

Meanwhile, city council wardens have said they will not follow up on firework reports on December 31 because their attention is focused on coronavirus. There are too few wardens to deal with both issues, Richard Gerrits of the wardens’ union BOA ACP told Radio 1 news.

In addition, wardens’ safety is also an issue given that the illegal fireworks of today are ‘real bombs’, Gerrits said.

Countdown

The weather is set to be good for outside revellers. Weather bureaus are predicting record temperatures during the day, and say it will be mainly dry overnight.  On Thursday night, it was as warm as 14.6 Celsius in the Zeeland village of Westdorpe, slightly higher than the previous record which was set in 2017.

New Year’s Day will be warm for the time of year with sunny spells, according to weather bureau KNMI.

2020

Although the firework ban was widely ignored in 2020 and dozens of cars were set on fire, police and the emergency services were called out some 30% fewer times than during ‘normal’ New Year celebrations.

The ban did result in a 70% drop in firework related injuries. Based on figures from both hospital emergency departments and family doctors, some 400 people were treated for fireworks related injuries on the night compared to 1,300 the previous year.

The countdown to 2022 will be broadcast on public television channels NPO 1 and NPO 2, as part of the final installment of the traditional Top 2000 record show.

The organised New Year swims which take place on beaches and lakes nationwide, have been cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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