New Year’s Eve in the pandemic: A lot of noise about firecrackers

In the Netherlands there should be no fireworks on New Year’s Eve this year due to the corona pandemic. A possible ban on firecrackers and missiles is now also being discussed in Germany.

The persistently high number of corona infections has sparked a debate about a ban on fireworks on New Year’s Eve. The chairman of the German Police Union (DPolG), Rainer Wendt, told the “Bild” newspaper: “The New Year’s Eve fireworks must be canceled this year due to the corona”.

Alcohol, groups of people and a party atmosphere quickly joined the fireworks – and that is not trendy, so Wendt. The CSU member of the Bundestag Michael Kuffer took the view in the paper that “New Year’s Eve gluttony and fireworks” should be banned.

Control “hardly feasible in terms of personnel”

Above all, this would pose almost impossible tasks for the police. “It must also be possible to control and enforce bans. From the point of view of the police union, this is hardly feasible in terms of personnel,” said the vice-chief of the police union (GdP), Jörg Radek, and thus agreed a different tone than that Trade unionist of the DPolG.

Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) rejects a ban, according to “Bild”. The Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Stephan Mayer (CSU), said in the br, the distance rules would have to be observed and masks worn, but “a categorical ban on New Year’s Eve fireworks is not necessary from the point of view of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.” New Year’s Eve will be different this year than usual. Nevertheless, politicians will do everything possible so that the citizens can celebrate New Year’s Eve appropriately but still joyfully, said Mayer.

Länder refer to municipalities

There are different views on the debate at country level. Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) referred to the temporary ban on celebrations. “Since you are currently not allowed to meet to celebrate anyway, it does not matter whether someone is out with New Year’s Eve crackers or with three bottles of bubbly,” said the CSU politician. His NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) spoke out against firecrackers and rockets. “On Halloween weekend it was very quiet in our party strongholds,” said Reul of the “Bild” newspaper. “I wish that it will be the same again on New Year’s Eve.”

Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens), on the other hand, warned: “You must not use the pandemic as an excuse to ban all the things that you have always disliked.” The decisive factor is whether fireworks contribute to the pandemic. “I don’t see that at first,” said Kretschmann. The respective municipalities have the final say.

The Minister of the Interior of Schleswig-Holstein, Sabine Sütterlin-Waack, also referred to this in relation to the dpa news agency: “I am convinced that, as every year, our cities and municipalities are responsible for issuing a ban on firecrackers where it is necessary”.

Skepticism and warnings about prohibition

The German Association of Cities considers a general ban on firecrackers to be wrong. “In the cities, dealing with private New Year’s Eve fireworks is being debated differently against the background of the corona pandemic,” said Managing Director Helmut Dedy of the editorial network Germany. The local and regional infection process is different, as are the local and urban conditions. “Against this background, the German Association of Cities makes no recommendation to ban New Year’s fireworks.”

Dedy also pointed out that some cities have long banned the firing of fireworks and rockets in certain parts of the city center – in order to ensure the safety of the celebrants. “Because in recent years there have been incidents in several city centers on New Year’s Eve in which people have been endangered by fireworks.”

Meanwhile, the Association of the Pyrotechnic Industry strongly warned against a ban on New Year’s Eve fireworks. “That would most likely mean bankruptcy for the industry, and the fireworks would then no longer exist once and for all in Germany,” said association boss Thomas Schreiber in the rbb. It is also to be expected that if legal firecrackers are banned, more illegal fireworks will be set off.

Fireworks ban in the Netherlands

At the beginning of the week, Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) had already called for a ban on New Year’s Eve fireworks and warned that private fireworks could further burden hospitals in the corona crisis. “Thousands of people are injured by firecrackers every year, including many young people,” said DUH Federal Managing Director Jürgen Resch. The federal government should therefore follow the example of the Netherlands and “completely ban the sale and use of New Year’s Eve fireworks”.

The Dutch government had decided to ban fireworks on New Year’s Eve last Friday due to the corona pandemic. This is to prevent doctors and nurses from having to take care of people who are injured by fireworks, the government said.

Deutschlandfunk reported on this topic on November 19, 2020 at 3 p.m.


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