The state government in Hanover fears crowds over the roar on New Year’s Eve. But their general fireworks ban goes way too far for the higher administrative court in Lüneburg.
The higher administrative court in Lüneburg has temporarily suspended the fireworks ban in the Lower Saxony Corona ordinance. Such a comprehensive fireworks ban is not necessary as an infection protection measure, it said in a court notice Friday. The new version of the Corona Regulation in Section 10a prohibits not only the sale, but also the carrying and burning of fireworks and other pyrotechnic objects. The ban should apply nationwide from last Wednesday to January 10, 2021.
The lawyer Mark-Oliver Otto had opposed this with a normative request for control. He argued that the fireworks ban was not a necessary infection control measure. In particular, it is not necessary for it to cover all types of fireworks and all locations. “The ban really irritated me,” Otto told the German news agency on Friday. ‘Of course you keep your distance when firing,’ emphasized the lawyer. In addition, no crowds are to be expected on New Year’s Eve, for example on the edge of a meadow in the country.
Court: ban on fireworks unsuitable for protection against infection
The OVG’s 13th Senate has granted the plaintiff’s request. According to the judges, measures to protect infections should only pursue “legitimate goals under the infection protection law”, such as protecting the population from infection with the Sars-CoV-2 virus and avoiding overloading the health system.
However, the dangers associated with fireworks were not included in this. Therefore, the fireworks ban is hardly suitable, not necessary, nor appropriate to achieve the objectives of the infection protection law.
Not all fireworks are valued equally
Dealing with New Year’s Eve fireworks has resulted in numerous injuries in the past. This is also to be expected this year. However, these short-term treatment capabilities did not diminish the capabilities required to treat Covid-19 patients.
Moreover, a comprehensive ban on all types of fireworks is not necessary, the judges argue. Sparklers, peas and table fireworks, for example, would not have the potential to attract large numbers of people.
Cologne prohibits fireworks in busy areas
In the meantime, the city of Cologne has banned fireworks on New Year’s Eve in at least some parts of the city – and this also with regard to the Corona situation. From December 31, 8 p.m. to January 1, 3 a.m., igniting and burning fireworks, flares, rockets, Bengali fire, smoke powder or other pyrotechnic objects will be prohibited in known fireworks hotspots, the city announced on Friday.
The ban applies to the area around the cathedral, the old town, the banks of the Rhine and entertainment venues such as the Belgian Quarter. It should serve to prevent crowding. In addition, it should prevent overload in hospitals.
Netherlands: Citizens must deliver fireworks
The authorities in the Netherlands are going one step further. Because currently not only the sale and use of fireworks is prohibited, but also the possession and storage at home. Amsterdam and other cities have therefore asked the residents to hand over their blasting supplies to the authorities.
“Fireworks at home? Avoid and deliver fines!”, Has been posted on the capital’s website since Friday. With the nationwide ban, which has been in effect since December 1, the authorities want to prevent the emergency medical services, which are used intensively because of the Corona crisis, from being injured by fireworks around the turn of the year.
Violations can lead to fines and criminal prosecution. The mayors of the four large cities have therefore decided to set up collection points where up to 25 kilos of fireworks per person can be returned free of charge, the ANP reports. Even particularly serious hits, the sale and possession of which were illegal before the current ban, could also be disposed of with impunity in this way.