Council issues Halloween and Bonfire safety advice amid COVID restrictions

Mendip District Council is urging residents to observe the COVID restrictions this Halloween, and 'remember, remember' to stay safe on Bonfire Night.

Media Release 23rd October 2020

Professionally organised firework displays are safer to attend but due to the pandemic, and the 'rule of six' law, most have been called off. The rule against social gatherings of more than six in a household, mean garden fireworks parties at home are also set to be smaller too.

Officers from the Council's Environmental Health team have reported a massive decline in enquiries regarding organised firework events, while simultaneously receiving anecdotal accounts of people buying huge volumes of fireworks from the high street.

Hence the call for people hosting home displays to plan carefully, follow the Firework Code, and remember the restrictions. And for anyone intending to host smaller, COVID-secure events, to check online or call the Council for safety advice.

You must be over 18 to purchase fireworks and it's illegal to set off or throw fireworks (including sparklers) in the street or other public places. You can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to 6 months for selling or using fireworks illegally and you could get an on-the-spot fine of £90.

Fines will also be imposed on Halloween trick or treaters caught breaking the law. The Governments for England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have all advised against trick or treating, but have not officially banned it. Trick or treating is allowed, so long as you follow the current guidelines of the rule of six and social distancing. But any youngsters who go out searching for treats in groups of more than six will be subject to fines - which parents will be asked to pay.

Heather Shearer, Portfolio Holder for Community Health, said: "Many people will be holding their own Halloween parties and back garden firework events this year. They must however remember to observe the rule of six, or face a potential fine.

"The lack of public bonfire and firework display sis particularly worrying. Those who normally opt to attend a larger, organised event may set up something at home instead and some will not have attempted this before. This is a risk because they'll be new to it, and fireworks are explosives and must be handled with great care."

Cllr Shearer added: "Think of your neighbours, and their pets too. Bonfire Night is a chance for many to have fun - and no one wants to be a killjoy - but for others it can be miserable, frightening and confusing.

"Please be responsible, follow the Fire Safety Code, and observe the COVID restrictions. And if you are planning to host a display, take a look at the Council website for safety tips.

"We don't want to be putting extra pressure on our police, fire and ambulance services this Halloween or on Bonfire Night. We must avoid that."

For more information, visit: www.mendip.gov.uk/article/7290/Fireworks or contact the Environmental Health team on 0300 303 8588 or email environmental.health@mendip.gov.uk

If you have concerns that an individual or business has significantly breached Government restrictions you can report it to our partners at Avon and Somerset Police. Fill in their online form here: www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report/breach-of-covid-19-restrictions/

Alternatively, call 101 (for non-emergencies) or 999 (for emergencies).