Fireworks on Silvester 2020: What are the rules in Germany?
As you are probably already aware, the government has enacted strict restrictions over the holiday period to try to curb the spread coronavirus in Germany. One of these restrictions is a complete ban on the sale of fireworks over New Year's Eve. People are also prohibited from setting them off in certain public places.
While seeing in the New Year with spectacular fireworks displays has become a fundamental tradition in almost every country in the world, this year things will be different. Read on for a rundown of the rules regarding fireworks in Germany this year.
“Normal” firework rules in Germany
Fireworks are classed into four different categories (Klassen) in Germany, from F1 to F4. Category F1 fireworks are smaller fireworks that contain the smallest amount of explosives and are generally sold all year round. They include sparklers, poppers and streamers.
Category F2 fireworks are your typical garden fireworks, including small rockets and fountains. F3 fireworks are designated as display fireworks; you need a special license to buy them. Finally, F4 fireworks are professional fireworks and are only available to professional pyrotechnicians.
In normal years, F1 fireworks can be bought all year round by anyone over the age of 12, while bigger fireworks are usually only sold at licenced shops. The only exception to this is the period between December 28 and 30, when bigger fireworks can be bought in shops all over the country.
Any fireworks that fall into the F2 category or higher can usually only be set off from December 31 to January 1 in Germany; although you can apply for the use of fireworks at certain events like birthdays or weddings. They cannot be set off near hospitals, churches, care homes or houses with thatched roofs.
Firework rules for 2020
In 2020, however, the German government has implemented a blanket ban on the sale of fireworks, as part of their sweeping restrictions aimed at tackling the spread of coronavirus. The government has also placed a nationwide ban on gatherings on Silvester and New Year’s Day, so big fireworks displays will not take place.
The nationwide measures do not necessarily prohibit people from setting off fireworks, although it is strongly discouraged (and in some states prohibited - see below).
Local authorities have been given the power to ban fireworks from certain public places in an attempt to stop people from gathering. This is not an uncommon practice; individual federal states and cities usually implement bans on setting off fireworks in certain public areas to protect historically important buildings or medieval town centres. Here's an overview of the rules in the different federal states:
- Baden-Württemberg: Fireworks prohibited in public places; curfew also applies from 8 pm to 5 am on New Year's Eve. You can only let off fireworks in your own garden or from a balcony.
- Bavaria: Curfew applies from 9 pm to 5 am on New Year's Eve. You can only let off fireworks on private property; in Munich a blanket ban applies within the Mittlerer Ring.
- Berlin: Fireworks generally allowed, but there will be individual prohibition zones, including large parts of Sonnenallee and Karl-Marx-Straße, Potsdamer Platz, Breitscheidplatz and the Brandenburg Gate. You can find a list of all zones here.
- Brandenburg: Exit restrictions, which normally apply from 10 pm to 5 am, will be relaxed for New Year's Eve; a general ban on fireworks is not planned, but some individual cities, including Potsdam, have decided to impose one.
- Bremen: Fireworks prohibited, with city-wide bans imposed in both Bremen and Bremerhaven. F1 fireworks may be used.
- Hamburg: Fireworks prohibited in the state of Hamburg.
- Hesse: Fireworks banned in busy public places statewide. The ban also applies to private property in some districts, including Offenbach. In Frankfurt, the ban applies in the old town, city centre and station district.
- Lower Saxony: Fireworks prohibited on busy streets or squares. Districts and cities to specify relevant areas.
- Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Fireworks prohibited on public streets or squares; only F1 fireworks may be used.
- North Rhine-Westphalia: No general ban on fireworks, but prohibition zones planned in Bonn and Cologne and elsewhere.
- Rhineland-Palatinate: No general ban on fireworks, but individual districts permitted to impose bans on busy streets and squares.
- Saarland: Fireworks prohibited in busy places and streets.
- Saxony: No general ban on fireworks, except in Dresden (fireworks banned in all public and private areas) and Chemnitz (fireworks banned in all easily-accessible places).
- Saxony-Anhalt: No general ban on fireworks, but individual districts permitted to impose bans on busy streets and squares.
- Schleswig-Holstein: Fireworks prohibited in busy streets and squares.
- Thuringia: Fireworks prohibited in busy streets and squares.
This list is intended as a general guide, and regulations could be changed last-minute; to be on the safe side, you should check with your local authority for relevant firework rules and restrictions in your area.
Above all, make sure you stay safe this Silvester. If you are planning to use fireworks, take the necessary precautions to avoid harming yourself and others around you. Here are a few basic rules to ensure you make it to next year pain-free.
- Always monitor kids who are using sparklers or poppers and do not let young children operate larger fireworks.
- Never put any body part over a firework once it has been lit; step back immediately.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to dispose of sparklers or if anything else goes wrong.
- Do not point fireworks at another person.
- Don’t try to relight dud fireworks (they might have a delayed reaction).
- Once a firework has finished burning, soak it in water before discarding to avoid fires.
Frohes neues Jahr!