Beijing passed a regulation on Friday to ban fireworks in the city, just weeks ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations in February, Xinhua reported. Local authorities were mulling the ban since July, because of heavy air pollution in the city during winters and fire hazards reported during celebrations in recent years.

Fireworks are traditionally an important part of the 15-day Lunar New Year celebrations, and are believed to drive away evil spirits.

The regulation was passed by the standing committee of the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress. The ban will apply to the area within the Fifth Ring Road of Beijing. The Fifth Ring Road encircles Beijing at a 10-km radius from the centre of the city.

Authorities of regions beyond this ring road can decide on areas where they want to restrict or ban fireworks. Some of them will be able to use fireworks only on the eve and the first day of the celebrations, and within certain hours on the other days.

Dozens of people were injured or killed in fireworks-related incidents during the festivities between 2015 and 2017, a legal affairs official said.

China has come down heavily on its cities in recent months in its effort to check air pollution. The pollution peaks during the winter as smog blankets northern cities because of coal-powered heating systems in homes. Last month, it warned of action against local officials who do not take strong steps to improve air quality in their cities.