The city council of Amsterdam on Thursday approved plans to announce a general ban on fireworks before the end of the year, making the capital the second large Dutch city to completely ban consumers from lighting fireworks after Rotterdam. The motion by animal party PvdD was supported by the entire city council except for the CDA and FvD, NU.nl reports.
The Dutch government has reached a deal to outlaw firecrackers and sky rockets, government sources told broadcaster NOS and website NU.nl. The prohibition will take effect before the upcoming New Year's period, and could potentially be in line with recommendations issued by the Dutch Safety Board in 2017.
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.
A majority in the Amsterdam city council wants to implement a general ban on consumer fireworks in the city. The local faction of VVD announced its support on Wednesday. GroenLinks, PvdA, and PvdD previously announced their support. Together the four parties have 24 of the 45 seats in the city council, NU.nl reports.
The Amsterdam VVD said that it must "unfortunately" support a ban. "We are very disappointed by the misery [fireworks] cause. A small group of people are ruining it for the rest," the party said.
A total of 168 people injured one or both their eyes with fireworks this New Year's, around 30 more than the previous New Year's, according to the Dutch ophthalmic society NOG. 13 people blinded an eye, and five completely lost an eye, NOS reports
The number of patients with eye damaged caused by fireworks has been increasing since 2017, according to NOG. The majority, 65 percent, of victims were injured by legal fireworks. Almost half of the victims were injured by fireworks lit by someone else.
NOG therefor calls for a complete ban on consumer fireworks.
Rotterdam will be the first large Dutch city to completely ban consumer fireworks for the coming New Year. After the "umpteenth" incidents and violence this past New Year's, the VVD in Rotterdam decided to support the ban, which means that there is majority support in the city council to prohibit the lighting of consumer fireworks, NOS reports.
Lighting fireworks over New Year's is a tradition that needs to change, CDA Minister Hugo De Jonge of Public Health said on television program Jinek on RTL 4 on Monday. Earlier in the day it became clear that a majority in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, now supports a partial ban on consumers' fireworks.
Support for a nationwide ban on firecrackers and rockets is growing within the political parties, including within the coalition. Coalition parties D66 and ChristenUnie called for such a ban. And two VVD mayors went against their party's position to call for such a ban, NOS reports.
Acting mayor Johan Remkes of The Hague argued for an "enforceable ban on firecrackers and rockets" for consumers on television program Buitenhof. And mayor Jan van Zanen of Utrecht asked the VVD to cooperate in a ban on all consumer fireworks.
A fundraiser was launched to support a 38-year-old mother and her 8-year-old daughter who were seriously injured in a fire in an apartment building in Arnhem on New Year's Day. The family's 39-year-old father Raymond and 4-year-old son Jelle were killed in the fire. At 9:30 a.m. on Monday, over 5 thousand euros had been donated.
A total of 1,300 people were injured by fireworks over New Year's, 7 percent more than the 2018/2019 New Year's period, according to figures from VeligheidNL. Brigitte Blatter from the safety organization called the increase worrying. "It therefore appears that the safety measures taken, such as banning certain fireworks or better information, have not helped," she said to NU.nl.
In total, 385 people ended up in emergency rooms after fireworks accidents. 900 people went to GP posts with minor injuries. Last year there were 396 emergency room visits and 800 GP post visits.
The Netherlands is headed towards its second straight year of sales growth in legal fireworks, the Dutch Association of Pyrotechnics told Nu.nl. Sales have risen dramatically, with an expected turnover increase of ten percent, the association said.
In a Christmas card sent to parliamentarians, police officers, enforcers and other aid workers called for a ban on firecrackers. First responders always face violence and aggression over New Year's, the first responders said. "We are there for the citizen when needed. Are you there for us?"
95 percent of Netherlands residents are in favor of harsher punishments for violence against police officers and other first responders during New Year's. 78 percent agree that fireworks should be banned next year in neighborhoods where aid workers are threatened. And 72 percent agree that fireworks should be banned in municipalities where the police cannot guarantee safety, according to a study by I&O Research on behalf of Binnelands Bestuur.
Police in the Netherlands made two separate stops that led to a combined discovery of over 2,700 kilograms of illegal fireworks. Roughly two thousand kilograms was found after a 29-year-old in Enschede was found carrying boxes of the explosives to his car.
The man was quickly detained, allowing police to open an investigation into how he obtained the fireworks. That led police to two separate locations where the illegal material was discovered.
The police are worried about enforcing local firework bans over New Year's and doubt whether these bans contribute to safety, National Police Chief Erik Akerboom said in a letter to parliament. "Maintaining public order is becoming a lot more complex for my people", he said in the letter, the Telegraf reports.
The 21 thousand cops who have to work this New Year's will be equipped with earplugs to protect their hearing against firecrackers and other fireworks. As the government is refusing to respond to the plea of the police, dozens of other civil society organizations, doctors and many municipalities to ban firecrackers over New Year's, the National Police will take other measures, chief Erik Akerboom said, NU.nl reports.
On Friday the Dutch government will announce a nationwide ban on the strongest consumer fireworks - fireworks that fall in the so-called third category like strips and rolls of firecrackers, sources in The Hague told broadcaster NOS. Both the fireworks sector and the police are dissatisfied with the ban.
The ban will take effect from New Year's 2020-2021, according to the broadcaster. Category three fireworks, which form only a small share of the Dutch market, are already banned in Belgium and Germany.
The police, Dutch mayors and various large companies issued a joint call on the Dutch government to ban firecrackers and rockets. They want to uphold the tradition of lighting your own fireworks over New Year's, but only with "safe decorative fireworks", they said in a full-page advertisement that will soon appear in national newspapers, RTL Nieuws reports.
Rotterdam is introducing a limited fireworks ban from this New Year's. Neighborhoods where things got out of hand and there were firework related incidents in the past, will be banned from lighting fireworks on New Year's. While quiet neighborhoods will still be allowed to do so, the city council decided on Thursday night, RTV Rijnmond reports.
The Dutch association for trauma surgery NVT register 90 fireworks injuries this New Year's, five fewer than last year. The 90 patients include 32 children, NU.nl reports.
People in the Netherlands spent a total of 70 million euros on fireworks this New Year's, 2 million euros more than the previous two years, according to the Dutch Association of Pyrotechnics, ANP reports.
The most money was spent on so-called compound fireworks - linked ornamental fireworks that needs to be lit only once to give a small fireworks show. Firecrackers were the most popular firework this year.
The Eye Hospital in Rotterdam treated eight people with fireworks injuries over New Year's. About half of the injuries caused permanent damage, the hospital announced, NU.nl reports.
The number of victims is about the same as last New Year's, though the injuries are somewhat more serious than in previous years, doctor Tjeerd de Faber said to the newspaper. The youngest victim is 15 years old.
"The most injuries were caused by legal fireworks. Half of the victims were bystanders and were hit by flying fireworks", Faber said.
NS is calling on Dutch municipalities to implement firework-free zones along and around the railways next New Year's. Fireworks thrown against a window can give a train driver a considerable shock, which in combination with damages caused, can disrupt train traffic, NS said, NOS reports.