THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government plans to ban the sale of most fireworks in a bid to rein in injuries and attacks on emergency service workers during unruly New Year’s Eve celebrations, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday.
The ban, which must be approved by parliament, would cover firecrackers and rockets, which have in recent years been thrown or fired at police, ambulance staff and firefighters responding to incidents on New Year’s Eve.
“The ban is necessary because the most recent year’s end again did not go well,” the government said in a statement explaining its decision. “There was an unacceptable level of injury and incidents and the number of incidents of violence against police hasn’t been so high in five years.”
Dutch customers spend millions of euros on fireworks in the days leading up to end of year celebrations and then set them off in the streets. Eye doctors regularly report serious injuries caused by fireworks around New Year’s Eve.
Opposition has grown in recent years to the tradition and some cities already have introduced firework-free zones on New Year’s Eve.
People will still be allowed to buy small decorative pyrotechnics.
However, some people already visit other countries to buy and smuggle back into the Netherlands more powerful firecrackers than the ones sold here.