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Germany: New Year's Eve fireworks for sale again after ban

December 29, 2022

People in Germany will be allowed to legally purchase fireworks to celebrate New Year's Eve. They had been banned for the past two years to avoid injuries that could overburden hospitals during the COVID pandemic.

Fireworks explode over Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate
Fireworks explode over Berlin's landmark Brandenburg GateImage: John Macdougall/REUTERS

The sale of fireworks for New Year's Eve is allowed again in Germany starting Thursday, after their private purchase was banned for two years under the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. 

Like in many countries, the tradition of individuals setting off fireworks has been an integral part of New Year's Eve celebrations in Germany — although they are becoming less popular. 

According to a recent Bundeswehr University in Munich survey, almost two-thirds of respondents saw the ban as good. The same survey showed that 17% of people were planning on spending money on fireworks this year.

The VPI pyrotechnics industry association said it expected around €120 million ($127.6 million) of fireworks sales this year. 

What are the fireworks rules in Germany? 

Some cities have set up no-firework zones, especially around busy streets. 

The quality of fireworks being sold from December 29-31 must be certified by Germany's Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) or a comparable EU authority.

Buyers must be at least 18 years old and German authorities recommend that fireworks are not purchased abroad. 

In 2020 and 2021, when German authorities banned the private sale of fireworks, tons of illegal pyrotechnics were smuggled into the country as Germans went abroad to buy them.

Why did Germany ban fireworks before?

In some German cities, critics say New Year's Eve fireworks make residential areas resemble war zones. Health authorities point to a regular upsurge in hospitalizations as the firecrackers cause severe burns as well as hand and eye injuries. 

Germany banned their sale in the last two years particularly because hospitals were already overloaded with COVID cases at the height of the pandemic. 

The German Red Cross urged caution when lighting fireworks this year, warning that some health care facilities were already strained. 

"Even if many [people] after the two-year break now finally want to celebrate again exuberantly and with private fireworks, caution and consideration should continue to come front and center," a Red Cross official warned on Wednesday.

The environmental impact of fireworks has also come under the spotlight in recent years. Made of harmful plastics and chemical compounds, pyrotechnic light not only causes ground pollution but can seriously affect air quality.

Environmental groups and the German police union have urged reintroducing the ban on fireworks. 


Dinner for One: A bizarre German New Year's Eve tradition

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fb/sms (AFP, dpa, KNA)