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Philippines bans fireworks again at Christmas

Covid and safety fears prompt authorities to impose quieter than usual festive celebrations for a second straight year

Philippines bans fireworks again at Christmas

Filipinos will again not be allowed to celebrate Christmas or the New Year with fireworks. (Photo: Unsplash)

The Philippine government has banned traditional firework celebrations over Christmas and New Year for a second straight year due to Covid-19 and safety fears.

The ban was based on the recommendation of the Health Department to avoid firework-related accidents during a time when medical services were being stretched because of the pandemic, national police chief General Dionardo Carlos said on Dec. 7.

Although the number of daily infections has dropped in the Philippines in recent weeks, authorities say they are mindful of the threat posed by the Omicron coronavirus variant despite there being no recorded cases there yet. 

Those caught flouting the ban will face criminal and civil charges, Carlos said.

“The police fully support the Department of Health in promoting safety while celebrating the holiday season despite firework displays being a cultural tradition Filipinos are accustomed to during personal and religious events, especially during the New Year,” he added.

In 2020, the Health Department reported an 85 percent decrease in firework-related injuries thanks to the ban. There were also no fires linked to them either, according to the Fire Department.

On several occasions, hospitals have reported people being hit by stray bullets fired indiscriminately by revelers

“The country benefited from not using fireworks to celebrate Christmas. Nobody was hurt last year. No house was burned,” the police chief said.

Every year, the country records 700 serious firework-related injuries on average.

On several occasions, hospitals have reported people being hit by stray bullets fired indiscriminately by revelers.

Sixty percent of the injured were children, according to the Health Department.

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The EcoWaste Coalition, a Philippine-based environmental group, has backed the ban, saying it would not only make people safer but the environment would be spared from pollution as well.

“Reducing environmental pollution associated with the New Year revelry is always welcome,” group campaigner Thony Dizon said on Facebook.

“The enforcement of such a measure will also be crucial in light of the threat posed by the new Omicron Covid variant.” 

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