Say goodbye to New Year's Eve fireworks in Prague this year

City Hall approves ban which will cover much of the city center, no city-sponsored display to take place.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 13.11.2020 09:38 (updated on 13.11.2020)

Prague City Hall has approved a ban on the public use of fireworks in sensitive city areas on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and it will take effect in time to stop the private shows this year. The restriction also bans simple flying lanterns.

The ban does not affect professional shows, but City Hall has already said it will not sponsor one on New Year’s Day in 2021.

The generally binding decree was proposed at the start of November by City Councilor Hana Kordová Marvanová (United Force for Prague). The restriction is in response to complaints from citizens as well as information from veterinarians and wildlife rescue stations. It is also intended to reduce environmental contamination.

Every year, the noise from the fireworks causes some wildlife to go into a panic resulting in injury in death. Dogs are distressed by the sudden loud noises.

The newly passed decree expands on the previous one, which prohibited non-professionals from using fireworks in Prague outside designated areas throughout the year, except for a few days such as New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

The ban includes the most sensitive parts of Prague, such as near monuments, watercourses and their banks, hospitals, homes for the elderly, specially protected areas, nature parks and Prague Zoo. These places are listed in detail in the decree and the surrounding areas are defined by distance.

Fireworks at Wenceslas Square. (photo:  Raymond Johnston - Expats.cz)
Fireworks at Wenceslas Square. (photo: Raymond Johnston - Expats.cz)

“Unfortunately, at the turn of the year, the situation, especially in the city center, was repeatedly unbearable. According to data from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, the amount of fired pyrotechnics increases every year. The firing of pyrotechnic devices causes serious injuries to people and animals every year, as well as damage to property,” Kordová Marvanová said in a press release.

“Environmental contamination is not negligible either. In some places in the center of Prague, for example, just after midnight on New Year’s Eve last year, the concentration of dust particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers was up to 12 times higher than allowed by the WHO,” she added.

City Hall on its Facebook page said that this year the New Year’s Eve celebration will be quiet and without stress for pets.

Jiří Pospíšil, chairman of the United Force for Prague political group, said he was very pleased that the Prague City Council supported the new decree.

“I consider the protection of animals to be one of the main reasons for restricting the use of pyrotechnics on the last and first day of the year, because it has been clearly shown that animals suffer from stress when using pyrotechnics, which can even result in their death,” Pospíšil said.

“The use of fireworks is associated, for example, with the increased death of swans on Prague floodplains,” he added.

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The second part of the decree is a complete ban on the use of flying lanterns throughout the city. The use of these lanterns carries the risk of fire. People cannot control where the lanterns, which carry a small open flame, will land. Farm animals also can be injured by eating or getting tangled in the metal or plastic frameworks.

Flying lanterns. (Photo: Pixabay, PublicDomainPictures)
Flying lanterns. (Photo: Pixabay, PublicDomainPictures)

"Since the risk associated with lucky lanterns is far from theoretical, I am glad that the councilpr took into account our proposal to ban their release into the capital when preparing the new decree,” Radomír Nepil, an assemblyman from the ANO club, said.

A pavilion for monkeys and apes in Krefeld, Germany, burned down due to a flying lantern at the start of 2020. At the same time, a burned-out lantern was found at Prague Zoo just meters from some dried animal feed, according to Prague Zoo director Miroslav Bobek.

Kordová Marvanová said a number of comments were received on the wording of the decree, both from citizens as well as from city districts, City Hall departments, the Municipal Police and the Interior Ministry. “The decree is therefore a compromise that does not completely prohibit the amateur use of pyrotechnics at the turn of the year, but bans them from particularly sensitive areas of the city,” she said.