Dutch cabinet now in favor of new fireworks limits and regulations
The governing cabinet in the Netherlands plans to implement new limits on fireworks after this past New Year's period saw thousands of incidents requiring first responders. Millions of euros worth of damages to private personal property were estimated, with even more damage caused to commercial property.
Security and Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said he proposed a ban on firecrackers and flares to other ministers at their weekly meeting. He said the cabinet is considering going along with the advice proposed by the Dutch Safety Board in 2017 regarding the issue, but he did not go into further detail, according to broadcaster NOS.
Every New Year's fireworks are at the heart of a large number of incidents in the Netherlands, and this year was no different. A father and his 4-year-old son were killed in a fire started by fireworks in an apartment building in Arnhem. The mother and 8-year-old daughter were critically injured. A total of 1,300 fireworks injuries were treated by emergency rooms and GP posts. 168 people injured their eyes, 13 people blinded an eye, and five completely lost one. The Rotterdam Eye Hospital treated a 18 fireworks victims between 11:30 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Firefighters responded to over 4,300 reported fires. And there were multiple attacks on first responders.
The ruling parties in government have been divided on this issue so far, with the D66 and ChristenUnie supporting bans to various extents, and the VVD and CDA being against it. The government will meet for the first time this year on Friday afternoon, where the fireworks issue is expected to be discussed. There is no a majority of members of parliament who would vote in favor of a ban on heavy consumer fireworks.
The discussion about banning fireworks flared up again over the past days, as more figures regarding injuries and incidents over New Year's become available. After Apeldoorn last year, Rotterdam announced that it will ban consumer fireworks completely this coming New Year's. There is majority support for such a ban in the city councils of Amsterdam and Eindhoven too.
Earlier today, coalition party ChristenUnie said it wants to only allow local "fireworks clubs", who got permission from their municipality, to light fireworks over New Year's in the future. According to the party, these local clubs can connect people and safely preserve the fireworks tradition, NOS reports.
"It seems wonderful to me if people from the neighborhood come together to organize fireworks in their neighborhood, or if the New Year is ushered in on the town square," ChristenUnie parliamentarian Stieneke van der Graaf said to the broadcaster.
ChristenUnie already expressed support for a ban on firecrackers and rockets, as the Dutch Safety Board advised in 2017, but now wants to go even further by only allowing approved clubs to light fireworks. Van der Graaf stressed that there were even more injuries this past New Year's, and fireworks were again pelted at emergency workers. "People have even died. If so many things go wrong, you have to do something," she said to the broadcaster.