THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A year overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic will not go out with the usual bang in the Netherlands after the Dutch government announced Friday it is banning the sale and use of most fireworks.
New Year's Eve in the Netherlands is traditionally celebrated with fireworks, with people pouring out of their homes around midnight to ignite rockets and firecrackers and major cities hosting large-scale fireworks shows that draw thousands of viewers.
However, it is also one of the busiest days of the year for hospitals treating people injured by the pyrotechnics. Last year, 1,300 people went to a hospital or doctor with firework-related injuries linked to New Year's Eve celebrations.
The Dutch 2020 New Year's Eve firework ban aims to ease the burdens on hospitals that are already swamped with COVID-19 patients.
"In the spring we all applauded for health care workers. On the upcoming New Year's Eve, we help our first responders by not setting off fireworks," said the minister for infrastructure and water, Stientje van Veldhoven.
The government announced a 40 million euro ($47 million) compensation plan for firework sellers to help cover the cost of storing unsold stock.
Only the lightest fireworks, such as hand-held sparklers, will still be allowed.