Fireworks ban violators hit with €100 fine, criminal record strike
The Dutch government will implement a one-time ban on the sale and use of fireworks traditionally available in the Netherlands as a way to bring in the New Year. Those who violate the ban will be fined a minimum of 100 euros, which means the offense will appear on the criminal records of those found guilty.
That would mean offenders will be unable to receive a certificate of good conduct, damaging the chances of qualifying for certain jobs, work permits, visas and residence permits.
The decision was made by the Cabinet at the request of the heads of the 25 security regions, representatives of the country’s emergency physicians, and many Members of Parliament as a way to reduce the pressure on the healthcare sector which has been burdened by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. “Last year on December 31 and January 1, 385 people went to the emergency room, and about 900 to a general practitioner, a total of 1,300 visits to a doctor,” all related to fireworks use, said Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus and his State Secretary, Stientje van Veldhoven, in a letter to Parliament.
On Friday, there were 2,181 patients in the hospital with Covid-19. Some 609 of them were in intensive care, according to patient coordination office LCPS.
"It is very unwise to set off fireworks this year. There is a good chance that you will be caught and get a heavy fine," Grapperhaus said after the weekly meeting of Cabinet ministers.
Certainly, not everyone was in favor of the ban. Earlier this week, trauma surgeon Jefrey Vermeulen from the burn unit at Maasstad Hospital in Rotterdam told the Volkskrant, “Do you know how many people were brought into the eight hospitals here in the southwest of the Netherlands between 1 December and 1 January 2020 because of fireworks injuries? 63 came in to the emergency room, of whom fifteen were admitted. That is fewer than two per hospital.” Eliminating that is a cheap political victory, but in reality will not actually help the current situation, he argued.
”What helps against corona is when people do not stand together with a glass of champagne and kiss on New Year's Eve. Then you prevent infections and relieve the pressure on healthcare. However, you don't have to ban the fireworks because of the crowds in the burn centers.”
The ban is specifically against consumer grade decorative and noise-related fireworks classified by European regulators as F2 or F3. Consumers are already forbidden from owning professional level F4 fireworks. Only F1 fireworks will be permitted for sale this year, like sparklers, and small firecrackers.
To compensate for the loss of turnover in the fireworks sector, the Cabinet is earmarking 40 million euros in compensation. A portion of this money will also be to assist those sellers who have already taken delivery of shipments to be able to safely store them until sales open up ahead of New Year’s Eve 2021.
“We think that we will compensate the sector in a decent way,” Van Veldhoven said to the media on Friday.