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Germany: Will there be a Firecracker Ban on New Year’s Eve?

New Year’s Eve is some six weeks away. So far, the authorities have not decided whether there will be a sales ban on pyrotechnical products, as there was last year. Corona and firecrackers are not really compatible.

Update December 3rd, 2021: Federal government and states put in place firecracker sales ban.

Berlin, November 16th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — In late December of last year, supermarkets and other shops had already printed their brochures when a sales ban for firecrackers and fireworks was announced at the last minute, also because the Corona infection numbers were increasing. Therefore, people were not supposed to gather and light pyrotechnical products together. Those who had not followed the news were disappointed when they showed up at the store around the corner and did not find any bangers.

Drinking and Lighting Firecrackers

This year, the infection numbers are even higher, in spite of the fact that there are vaccinations by now. But Germany’s vaccination rate is only 67.8 percent. Mainly because 32 percent of all Germans are not vaccinated, the situation got worrisome yet again. This leads to the question whether the Corona rules should be tightened, including on New Year’s Eve. In pre-Corona times, getting drunk, gathering, partying and lighting firecrackers were the main activities Germans engaged in on New Year’s Eve.

In the corona pandemic, drinking is a problem because intoxicated people usually do not give a damn about any rules. Gathering is an issue too because people pass on Corona infections that way. The same applies to partying. Lighting fireworks brings people together as well. Is all of this reason enough to restrict the use of pyrotechnical products? Many German politicians believe it is, but they also know restrictions lead to frustration in some quarters.

Local Banger Bans

For now, it is unclear whether there will be a national sales ban on firecrackers and similar products and if the state will have to cover the firecracker industry’s losses, as it did last time. But one federal state, namely Berlin, already took measures. According to several German-language media, there will be firecracker ban zones at Alexanderplatz, a major square, and in the Steinmetzkiez neighborhood in Schöneberg. The Senate Department of the Interior took this decision.

Keeping people apart because of Corona is not the only reason for those local bans. In the past years, police officers in Berlin had been attacked. Increasingly, lit fireworks and bangers had been thrown or shot at them. These local bans are supposed to curb both the mobs who were responsible and the Coronavirus. The Berlin Senate has not ruled out more bans.

Busy Hospitals

In Germany’s south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, where the Corona infection numbers are even higher than in Berlin, the discussion about a firecracker ban is in full swing. According to the ‘Echo24’ news portal, two major police unions, the ‘DPolG’ and ‘GdP’, just demanded a ban of this kind for this year. In this pandemic, the police have to deal with so many things, including enforcing Corona rules. They do not want to be overburdened. Germany’s Community Association, on the other hand, opposes a general firecrackers ban.

Ban supporters believe there are many more good reasons for prohibiting the sale or use of fireworks, or both. For instance, Germany’s hospitals are extremely busy because they have to treat a rapidly growing number of COVID-19 patients. Why should they have to deal with patients who injured themselves with firecrackers, on top of all the work they have already? Besides, dogs and other animals hate bangers. So does the environment.

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