Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition asked the COVID-19 Task Force (IATF) to ban the use of firecrackers and fireworks during New Year festivities to prevent further burdening hospitals due to related injuries.
In a letter on Tuesday, November 17, EcoWaste Coalition urged the task force to adopt a resolution ordering the nation to adopt an alternative way of welcoming the New Year, pursuant to the Department of Health's annual anti-firecracker campaign.
"Consistent with the government-led efforts to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19, especially in community settings, we urge the IATF-EID to espouse an alternative way of heralding health and environment-friendly New Year that will be possible without the lighting of firecrackers and fireworks,” said Eileen Sison, EcoWaste Coalition president, in the letter.
The group warned that lighting firecrackers and fireworks emit toxic gases and pollutants which could "weaken" the immune system and put a person a higher risk of respiratory infection, including coronavirus disease.
EcoWaste Coalition also said that even minor firecracker-related injuries need immediate medical care and can therefore overwhelm an already overburdened healthcare system.
The group added that firework displays "encourages" mass gatherings in communities and parks "which will make physical distancing difficult to observe."
EcoWaste Coalition noted IATF's efforts in restricting mass gatherings by temporarily prohibiting people to visit cemetries and memorial parks during Undas.
"We are certain that the IATF-EID can also succeed in ensuring a safe and ecological welcome of the New Year sans firecrackers and fireworks," Sison said.
Sison also urged IATF to include the proposed resolution a ban on using taxpayers' money on buying firecrackers and fireworks. EcoWaste said that the funds intended to buy these should instead be used for pandemic and disaster efforts.