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Sales ban on fireworks upheld by Higher Administrative Court
The Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg (OVG) has confirmed the nationwide ban on the sale of New Year's Eve fireworks.
The court announced on Tuesday evening (28 December 2021) that urgent applications by pyrotechnics dealers against the regulation of the Federal Ministry of the Interior were unsuccessful. Previously, the Administrative Court of Berlin had already rejected corresponding applications - this decision was now confirmed by the OVG in the next instance.
Particular urgency prevents a sufficiently reliable assessment of the legality of the ban
The 6th senate of the Higher Administrative Court conceded that due to the urgency, a sufficiently reliable assessment of the lawfulness of the regulation was not possible. However, the necessary weighing of consequences was to the detriment of the applicants: It is true that the sales ban interferes with their fundamental rights. However, the purpose pursued outweighs this, namely to prevent a further strain, in particular on the hospitals, which are heavily utilised due to the pandemic.
Ban significantly reduced hospital admissions last year
The administrative court had previously referred to figures from Berlin from last year's New Year's Eve: According to these figures, 50 to 75 people are usually admitted to Berlin's Marzahn Accident Hospital alone on New Year's Eve; last year there were only 10. In view of the current heavy pressure on the hospitals, quick action was necessary, the court said. Therefore, it was permissible that there was no law for the ban. The plaintiffs had criticised this as not being permissible. The Berlin courts have jurisdiction because of the official seat of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
The Bundesrat approved the comprehensive ban on the sale of firecrackers on 17 December, thus implementing a federal-state agreement. Numerous municipalities have also banned the burning of pyrotechnics in central places on New Year's Eve.