More Firework Restrictions as New Year Celebrations End Tomorrow
Tomorrow (Thursday) is the fifteenth day of the lunar calendar, also known as “Lantern Festival,” which officially marks the end of the new year celebrations. That means one final orgy of pyrotechnic action across the city before fireworks are banned in urban areas for another year. In response to a steep increase in firework-related fires this year, local authorities have tightened restrictions on places where fireworks can be let off in anticipation of tomorrow’s activities.
The rather vague restrictions include a ban on lighting fireworks around buildings housing media such as TV and radio stations, and newspapers. Let’s hope CCTV chose to observe the regulations this year – they’ve only just started to repair the damage they caused to their own headquarters last time they ignored police warnings about not letting off over-sized fireworks back in 2009.
In addition to the banning of fireworks around media outlets, fireworks are not permitted on bridges or in any underground spaces; around telecommunication facilities, post offices or financial institutions; around “densely populated public areas” such as cinemas or theaters; on construction sites or near buildings covered with insulation materials; or in “densely populated communities with little space and large numbers of cars.”
By our reckoning that pretty much covers all of Beijing – where in the city can you find a community that is not densely populated, with little space, and a large number of cars?
It remains to be seen how these restrictions will be enforced, but China Daily claims, “Teams of officials from the fire prevention bureau, police, neighborhood committees and property companies will patrol the ‘no-fly zones’ throughout the day to warn offenders.” Needless to say, “Banners will also be put up to alert residents.”
Penalties for infractions include fines of up to RMB 500 or three days in detention.
More than 100 fires have been caused by fireworks in Beijing during the 2011 New Year period, which according to China Daily represents a 106 percent increase over last year’s figure. Last week Xinhua put the number at 194 firework-related fires.
Two fatalities have been attributed to firework-related accidents in Beijing, and there were 409 injuries reported from February 2-8.
So take care tomorrow and make sure you or your friends and family are not added to the casualty list.