Selling – not setting off – fireworks banned in Berlin

The police union says anyone who wants them will just go to Poland, including pro smugglers.

The cops say it will still be loud.
The cops say it will still be loud.imago images

Berlin-As part of the increased corona restrictions, Germany's capital has also forbidden the sale of fireworks this month but few think that will be enough to guarantee the first silent Silvester in recent memory. 

Although the plethora of pop-up fireworks stands are forbidden, setting of fireworks hasn't been outlawed except in Pallasstraße in Schöneberg and at Alexanderplatz. 

"Anyone who wants fireworks just goes to Poland and gets fireworks there," Benjamin Jendro, a spokesperson for the GdP police union, said on Sunday.

Real fireworks fans also likely have leftover supplies from previous years and some people also have starter pistols that fire blanks.

"People like that have certainly stocked up on ammunition," Jendro said.

In Poland, tabletop fireworks can be bought legally all year round, as well as rockets that are also allowed in Germany. But fireworks can also be purchased that are only approved for licenced pyrotechnicians. 

Although many amateur smugglers bring illegal fireworks across the borders in personal cars or on trains, professionals are also hoping to make a buck. A Belgian driver in a minibus was recently caught bringing 942 kilos of fireworks across the border. Last year, 5.6 tonnes were found by police, two years before 18.8 tonnes.

"The sales ban that has now been issued will hit the industry hard," Thomas Schreiber, head of a pyrotechnics industry association, said, adding that 3,000 people rely on the annual mini-explosions and sparkling chemicals for work. "The entire industry may now even be faced with insolvency."

Even if the police union isn't optimistic about the effects of the fireworks ban, it is happy that a general ban on gatherings was also imposed. Opponents of the corona restrictions have announced a New Year's protest at 11am and if protestors gather in defiance of the ban, officers have more leeway.

"Now we can intervene early," Jendro said.

Still, the ban on groups will likely keep cops busier than usual, he said: "There will definitely be larger groups that meet somewhere in the city." Officers previously didn't have to intervene with clusters of peaceful revelers. This year is different.

"Many who drink alcohol become more aggressive. And if we have to enforce bans, there will certainly be more conflicts and attacks on police officers."