This year New Year’s Eve in Germany will be firecracker free (again)! The federal and state governments have agreed on a ban on the sale of private fireworks and a complete ban on gatherings on New Year’s Eve. The government stressed that the purpose of this decision is to avoid an increase in coronavirus infections and additional burdens on hospitals due to accidents with firecrackers.
The resolution document states: “On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, there will be a nationwide ban on the sale and assembly of pyrotechnics. The sale of pyrotechnics before New Year’s Eve will be generally prohibited this year, and the setting off of New Year’s Eve fireworks is strongly discouraged, also due to the high risk of injury and the already enormous burden on the health care system.”
Director of the Association of the Pyrotechnics Industry in Germany is outraged
Klaus Gotzen, managing director of the Association of the Pyrotechnics Industry in Germany, said the ban is symbolic and will have no effect. He is strongly opposed to the ban: “There must not be this sales ban. Many companies in our industry would not survive a second time. Three thousand jobs are at risk.”
Gotzen believes the pyrotechnics industry is not responsible for the full hospitals. That “is not supported by the data,” Gotzen said. “A much bigger burden is drunk people who are involved in fights and other accidents.
In the open, the risk of infection is very low anyway, Gotzen said, “especially since a great many people are vaccinated, get tested and behave sensibly.”
Aerosol expert: “From a scientific point of view, it doesn’t make sense”
Also from a scientific point of view, the ban on gatherings on New Year’s Eve does not make sense, says aerosol expert Gerhard Scheuch (66) for BILD:
“This is alarmism. And that is dangerous: then people hide in their homes, close the windows so that no one notices that they are celebrating. But that’s where the infection occurs!”.
Indoors, the risk of infection is up to 20 times greater. Even outdoor hugs are not dangerous. Scheuch suspects: “The problem with politics is that it’s easier to control outdoors.”
Virologist Hendrik Streeck (44) also sees a “benefit” in firecrackers on New Year’s Eve: “for the most part at least – you set off firecrackers outside rather than indoors”.
Streeck explains: “We know from aerosol researchers that it’s much better to be outdoors because aerosols float with our body heat and we can’t actually create any big transmission chains out there. So it is better for people to go outside.”
Opinions of German politicians are divided
FDP politician Frank Schäffler is outraged by the German government’s decision: “It is appalling that more and more bans are being issued that have nothing to do with the pandemic. The goal and the means have been completely lost sight of.”
CDU/CSU vice-chairman Thorsten Frei, on the other hand, supports the ban on firecrackers: “In several states, patients are being moved to intensive care and important operations are being postponed. Right now, we must do everything we can to avoid putting even more strain on our health care system. This may include banning firecrackers if a state or county has a difficult situation.”