Germany’s Merkur Spiel-Arena Becomes Vaccination Center

The entrance to Düsseldorf's vaccination center at Merkur Spiel-Arena.
– The entrance to Düsseldorf’s vaccination center at Merkur Spiel-Arena.

Germany is setting up vaccination centers across the country, and D.LIVE just announced that Merkur Spiel-Area is going to be one of them.

Ever since March, live entertainment professionals across the world have been pointing out to their respective governments, that they are the most experienced when it comes to handling large crowds in a safe manner. 
While this argument hardly ever convinced decision makers to let promoters go ahead with events, they are now involving them in the mammoth task of vaccinating vast numbers of people.
The vaccination center at Merkur Spiel-Arena will be ready by Dec. 15. It will comprise around 8,000 square meters across two floors, 12 check-in counters, including scanners for people’s QR coded appointments.
There’ll be two video rooms clarifying questions people may have about the whole procedure. 10 vaccination rooms will be set up in the stadium’s VIP boxes, each containing two vaccination cabins.
Vaccination center Merkur Spiel-Arena.
Land NRW / Ralph Sondermann
– Vaccination center Merkur Spiel-Arena.
The buildings VIP boxes were turned into vaccination rooms an rooms for consultations with a doctor.

There will be two rooms with doctors for people looking for some personal consultation. There will also be a well-equipped emergency room on the same level as the vaccination rooms. 

Everything else that’s require for a project like mass vaccination – ample parking space, sanitary facilities, easy connection to public transport and motorways, for instance – are part of Merkur Spiel-Arena’s infrastructure anyways.
People will be guided to the vaccination center via signposts through a one-way system. Disabled access is guaranteed.
The current plan is to deliver 2,400 vaccinations per day, capacities can be increase if need be. A total of eight mobile teams will be heading out to Düsseldorf’s care centers on vaccination days.
As opposed to many other stadiums, the concourse areas, foyers and corridors circulating Merkur Spiel-Arena are closed-off areas. It allowed the operators to zone off some 8,000 square meters for the vaccination center, which won’t interfere with the regular business at the stadium, where soccer club Düsseldorf carries out its home fixtures. 
“We’re utilizing around 15% to 20% of available surface. We’ve agreed that, once fans are allowed back at soccer games, we are going to stop vaccinating on match days, and open on another day in the week. We can still run mobile vaccinations, after all, you need to service the care homes etc, which will require the staff, D.LIVE CEO Michael Brill told Pollstar.
He praised his team for planning, conceptualizing and setting up a fully functional vaccination center, which will be in operation for at least six to eight months.
Vaccination center Merkur Spiel-Arena.
– Vaccination center Merkur Spiel-Arena.
The check-in counters.

While he admitted that his team usually prefers working on other “event formats,” he’s hoping this vaccination center will contribute to a moment of relief for the many people, who are counting on a vaccine as the only way of returning to normal life.

“Reaching sufficient vaccination coverage at Merkur Spiel-Arena will hopefully end this lockdown chapter for our trade and allow us to reload live entertainment – that would be a reason to celebrate,” Brill commented. 
Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn was part of a delegation of politicians, inspecting Merkur Spiel-Arena on Dec. 1. He commented, “this vaccination campaign is a mammoth project. We’re getting ready to provide a vaccine for several tens of millions of people in a minimum of time. This requires exact planning and good organization.”
The minister president of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, said, he was hoping to begin vaccinating people before Christmas, provided the vaccine is admitted and distributed in time.
The obvious question is: will people still be able to go to events without being vaccinated? 
“Health minister Spahn relayed conversations he’s had with nursing staff, who are hoping to be among the first to receive the vaccine,” Brill told Pollstar, “But he’s also had conversations with people, who didn’t want to be the first to be vaccinated out of fear of possible complications and vaccine injury.
“He said he acknowledged both positions on opposite ends of the spectrum, but he also said that, once the vaccination campaign began, it would take the usual course: once it became apparent that it was being done responsibly, and could be administered presumably without severe side-effects, the willingness to get vaccinated would increase among the population.”
Vaccination center Merkur Spiel-Arena.
Land NRW / Ralph Sondermann
– Vaccination center Merkur Spiel-Arena.
A mobile team will be vaccinating those who cannot make it to the stadium.

Brill thinks, “there’s going to be an initial phase of skepticism, followed by a phase of acceptance.”

The fact that 20 million Germans, or roughly a quarter of the population, voluntarily got their flu shots this year made him optimistic that the majority of people would comply.
“Once a vaccine is available, everybody will have the choice of making use of it, in order to be able to return to a normal way of life. To what extent people are going to decide to not get vaccinated, and therefore to not participate in the normal way of life, I think, is a discussion that’ll resolve itself,” Brill continued.
“Once everybody realizes that the current safety measures are going to be lifted because of the vaccine, it’ll increase the the need and the wish to be vaccinated,” he said.
Brill continued, “I think we all know that the promotion business won’t return to its usual way of operating before 2022. By that time, I expect we’ll have full vaccination coverage in society, which [in scientific terms] means 60% to 70%.”
Brill said he hasn’t yet followed the discussions around making sure everybody entering the venue has indeed been vaccinated. His personal opinion is that, once vaccination is possible, at some point, there won’t be the need for the additional safety measures.
The decision makers.
Land NRW / Ralph Sondermann
– The decision makers.
From left: Minister president of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, and German health minister Jens Spahn.

From then on, “it’s each individual’s responsibility. After all, we’re not obligating people to get a flu shot, despite everyone knowing there’s the possibility of getting infected with the flu at events, Christmas markets or large groups.

“I think we’ll return to a utterly normal everyday situation, where everyone has the right to decide how to protect themselves, which risks they want to expose themselves to. I think it’ll be completely analogous to the way people are dealing with the flu. But I’m not aware of any political decisions on that yet,” he explained.
Hopefully, Brill will be proved right. What contradicts his assessment are statements made by World Health Organization boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said, “a vaccine will complement the other tools we have, not replace them.”
These other tools that need to continue, according to Ghebreyesus, include surveillance, testing, isolating, tracing and quarantining.