The Hague scraps New Year's bonfires due to Covid restrictions
The bonfires in The Hague are canceled this year due to the coronavirus measures. According to mayor Jan van Zanen, there are now "too much uncertainty and too few starting points to continue the preparations" due to the coronavirus rules. The bonfires were supposed to take place again for the first New Year's since 2018-2019. The fireworks show at the Hofvijver has also been canceled.
The municipality wanted to allow bonfires in Scheveningen and the neighborhoods of Laak, Escamp, and Duindorp in The Hague. According to The Hague, the Omnicron variant, the high number of coronavirus infections, and the lack of clarity of what will be allowed during New Year's have thrown a spanner in the works.
"The Cabinet will not announce any relaxations or (local) options before 14 December," the municipality said in a statement. "That is too late to organize a bonfire responsibly and safely. In addition, it creates too much uncertainty and unacceptable financial risks for the organizers."
The municipality also fears an "uncontrollable influx of public" to the bonfires, now that many other cities have canceled their New Year's festivities. "Because the bonfires deserve a fair chance, that's an unacceptable risk."
Van Zanen spoke of "a major setback" for all involved and "again a downer" for the neighborhoods where the bonfires would have been built. "From January to today, united forces have been working on the responsible realization of the new form of this tradition in The Hague." The mayor urged people to "keep the peace" in the run-up to and also during New Year's.
The organization of the bonfire in Duindorp called it "very regrettable." "But unfortunately, there are no other options," the organization wrote on Facebook. The organizers of the Scheveningen bonfire also announced that the party was canceled. "Despite the efforts of our mayor Jan van Zanen until the last moment, he was unable to let the bonfires continue."
The bonfires were not allowed this past New Year's due to the coronavirus rules. The year before, they were banned after things went wrong on the beach of Scheveningen on 1 January 2019. The wind blew smoldering particles into the village. This created great danger and much damage. The woodpiles of Scheveningen and Duindorp were much higher than agreed, but the municipality did not do anything about it. That was the conclusion of the Dutch Safety Board, and it led to the resignation of mayor Pauline Krikke.