Fireworks enthusiasts expect "practically normal New Year's Eve"
Fireworks enthusiasts expect a nearly normal New Year's Eve on Friday when it comes to people setting off fireworks. "The fireworks ban will not work because there is not a fence around the Netherlands," said Jeffrey Peters of the Fireworks Lovers Association (HVLV). On top of that, he pointed out that several municipalities indicated they will not likely enforce the national ban, which was put in place to try and prevent hospitals from having to deal with a high volume of patients injured in fireworks accidents. The hospitals were struggling under a higher burden of Covid-19 patients, combined with more healthcare workers out sick due to coronavirus infectionss.
"Last year, on New Year's Eve, it turned out that the chance of getting caught was practically zero," said Peters, who said he will adhere to the fireworks ban. He pointed out that many Dutch people have recently bought fireworks in Belgium. Enthusiasts queuing up for hours, even outside, could also be seen in photos posted on social media platforms.
Due to the temporary total ban on fireworks, residents were forbidden from bringing fireworks purchased abroad into the Netherlands starting December 15. The offense is legally punishable, even when acquiring the fireworks in neighboring countries. Before that date, a maximum of 25 kilograms of fireworks could be imported per car. Buying fireworks from foreign web shops is also prohibited. "A lot of people can't resist doing it," said Leo Groeneveld, the chair of Pyrotechnics Netherlands (BPN).
BPN announced earlier this month that Belgian retailers were trying to order fireworks from Dutch companies because so many were being sold in Belgium. It is not clear whether fireworks were sold by Dutch companies to Belgian shops, who could have then sold the fireworks back to Dutch customers who traveled across the border.
Fireworks will become significantly more expensive in 2022 due to the higher transportation costs and rising price of raw materials, according to Groeneveld. "Wage costs in China are also increasing further and factories there must also limit their CO2 emissions." He said he expects the cost of fireworks to rise by about 35 percent.
The BPN chair is still disappointed with the ban, which was unexpectedly introduced by the caretaker Cabinet to give the healthcare sector more space. According to Groeneveld, setting off fireworks with New Year's Eve is "a fantastic tradition" that most Dutch people want to keep. "Nuisance, destruction and injury are caused by misconduct and illegal fireworks. We distance ourselves from that."
Reporting by ANP