German doctors call for New Year's Eve fireworks ban to spare overburdened hospitals

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German doctors call for New Year's Eve fireworks ban to spare overburdened hospitals
Firecrackers such as these are commonly sold in shops and stands ahead of New Year's Eve in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

As hospitals around Germany fill to capacity, German doctors are advocating for more responsible handling of firecrackers - and in some cases full-on bans - on New Year's Eve.


German Medical Association president Klaus Reinhardt called for a permanent ban on the sale of fireworks, which had already been forbidden over the past two years amid the Covid pandemic.

"Unregulated firecrackers are bad for the environment and repeatedly lead to serious injuries,” he told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Hospitals are already overburdened due to the high number of patients with respiratory diseases, he added.


Buying and setting off firecrackers is a popular practice on New Year’s Eve in Germany, with bigger cities such as Berlin, hit particularly hard with explosions everywhere from parks to the middle of the sidewalk.

They come at a cost: Every year, about 8,000 people in Germany suffer an injury to the inner ear from exploding fireworks, according to the German Medical Association. Children, teenagers and young adults between the ages of six and 25 are particularly affected by blast trauma. 

In addition, emergency clinics treat several patients for eye injuries and burns, he said.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the sale of firecrackers was banned on New Year's Eve in 2020 and 2021 in Germany, leading to far fewer injuries, said Klaus.

Police block a section of the Unter den Linden boulevard leading to Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate, which is illuminated during a concert, on New Year's Eve, in Berlin on December 31st, 2020 amid a fireworks ban. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

"We have had a good experience with a firecracker ban in the past two years. Now the federal and state governments should decide on a permanent and comprehensive ban," said Reinhardt.

Instead, he suggested official "donation firework displays" for refugees from Ukraine.

Several cities and districts around Germany have announced that they will establish firecracker ban zones this year. 

Some larger cities are also enacting bans in more crowded areas. It will be forbidden to light fireworks in Düsseldorf’s Old Town and Hamburg's inner city for example. 

READ ALSO: Will Berlin bring back fireworks after two years of New Year's Eve bans?

‘More responsible handling’

The German Hospital Association stopped short of calling for an all-out ban on firecrackers, and instead advocated for more "responsible handling,", especially in light of already full hospitals around the country.

"We have to assume that hospitals and their emergency rooms will again be as heavily burdened with firework injuries on New Year's Eve as they were in the years before the pandemic," said Gerald Gaß, chairman of the board, to the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.


At the beginning of November, Deutsche Umwelthilfe (German Environmental Aid) already called for a nationwide ban on firecrackers on New Year's Eve. Their plea was echoed by the Federal Executive Board of the Police Trade Union and the Medical Association of Lower Saxony. 

Martina Wenker, President of the Medical Association of Lower Saxony, pointed out the negative consequences of the fine dust released by fireworks for both people and the environment.

READ ALSO: Majority of Germans 'back New Year's Eve fireworks ban'


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