Netherlands to ban firecrackers before New Year's: report

The Dutch government plans to ban firecrackers before the end of the year, in an effort to make New Year's safer. Firework sellers will also be obliged to give their customers safety goggles and stable firing tubes for rockets, RTL Nieuws reports based in information from insiders in The Hague.

The government is taking this measure after the Dutch Safety Board advised that crackers and rockets be banned, because they cause the most injuries and damage during New Year's.

The planned ban was met with mixed reactions. The firework sector worries that this will only lead to more illegal fireworks from abroad. Opposition parties GroenLinks, SP, PvdA and animal party PvdD call it a good first step in the right direction.

"This is a good first step", SP parliamentarian Ronald van Raak said to RTL. "Banning the sale of firecrackers also makes it easier for the police to manage."

PvdA parliamentarian Attje Kuiken expressed a similar sentiment. "We want to make sure that New Year's is a fun party for everyone. That is why this decision is a first, good step."

GroenLinks parliamentarian Kathalijne Buitenweg is pleased with the measure, but wants the government to go further. "In the end, GroenLinks wants to follow the advice of the Dutch Safety Board. This decision is a great step towards this", she said to the broadcaster.

Animal party PvdD also calls on the government to go further with this ban. "As far as the PvdD is concerned, this coming New Year's not only the sale and lighting of firecrackers will be banned, but also all other forms of blast fireworks, rockets and decorative fireworks. In stead of that, municipalities can organize professional fireworks shows. If we really want to reduce the number of injured by fireworks to zero, a ban on fireworks is the only thing that helps."

Ophthalmologist Tjeerd de Faber of the Eye Hospital Rotterdam thinks the ban on crackers is an excellent idea. "30 percent of eye damage caused by fireworks is caused by crackers. The rest comes from arrows and decorative fireworks. So I am happy with this step. But it does not go far enough for me. The rest of the fireworks must also be banned. Furthermore, I am very happy with the fireworks glasses." He adds that around 150 people ended up in hospital with eye injuries over New Year's. "Twelve people are blind in one eye now. Half of all patients were a bystander."

Willem Duist from a firework shop in Woerden thinks the government is going too far with this measure. "I think that a ban on crackers is very exaggerated", he said to the broadcaster. "The crackers that we sell, you can't really do damage with them. On the other hand, there are products with no margin at all. Firework rockets, on the other hand, I can get behind. Especially when people are drunk, you can quickly cause an emergency with a rocket."

Rudi Buis of the Dutch association of insurers VVV thinks that the ban won't make much of a difference. "If we look at damages with New Year's, from around 10 to 15 million, that is vandalism, defacement and blowing up. The damage caused is often caused by illegal fireworks. In terms of nuisance it will certainly make a difference, but in terms of damage it will not have much effect. This is mainly caused by illegal fireworks such as avalanche arrows. Not by the firecrackers you buy from the fireworks dealer."

Leo Groeneveld of the pyrotechnics interest group calls banning firecrackers a "sham measure that will not yield anything", according to RTL. "It promotes illegal heavy firecrackers from abroad. It is absolutely unwise. We are afraid of an increase in illegal fireworks and therefore also a lot more firework victims."