"The merry-go-round continues."

"Just this morning they changed the Corona Protection Regulation again; this time, they relaxed the rules. It looks like we'll be playing in front of some 40,000 spectators this Saturday. That's the day after tomorrow. So far, we've been planning on 25,000." It's Thursday, 30 September 2021. Felix Timpe is responsible for coordinating the special match operations in BVB's Organisation department. Match days on their own are no walk in the park, but since the pandemic "'s a never-ending merry-go-round. What applies today, is already old news tomorrow. I'm not complaining, it's just the way it is."

Accommodating 15,000 visitors more than before is a challenge. "The plans are set, everything has been prepared and approved by the public health department, but it still has to be implemented." These are complex mechanisms that work in tandem to offer visitors the best possible protection. Ticketing, health and safety protocols, fan input, catering, public transport, internal and external communications, and the list goes on and on. "For months we've been constantly coordinating, informing, involving, convincing. That's the only way."

So, now we're expecting 40,000 spectators. "To date, 120 staff members stationed around the stadium checked whether the visitors have either been vaccinated or have recovered. It takes a moment to check someone's status and give them their admission wristbands. Now that 40,000 visitors are coming, we'll revert to turnstiles.

It's easier to manage that many people that way. We'll open 2.5 hours before kick-off to ease the flow of visitors."

The biggest challenge was the first home match of the 2020/2021 season against 'Gladbach. "Four days before kick-off we learned that we might have 10,000 spectators. From that point on we practically lived at the stadium: we turned routes into one-way paths, put up barriers and signage, procured disinfectant and other sanitisers, coordinated safety announcements, and calculated capacities in public restrooms and distances for social distancing purposes. The safety of everyone is always our top priority."

We might even see the return of some 66,000 spectators for the match against Mainz. "That's the seating limit for the Champions League. The journey continues..."