Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced a new program that will require New Yorkers to show a COVID-19 “passport” to enter sports arenas, theaters, and other businesses.
The plan establishes an “Excelsior Pass” which will use secure technology to prove that a state resident has been vaccinated against COVID-19 or has had a recent negative test. Sites included in the rollout plan include Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center, both sports and entertainment venues.
“Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass’s ‘Wallet App,'” according to a press release on the governor’s webpage. “Each pass will have a secure QR code, which venues will scan using a companion app to confirm someone’s COVID health status.”
The program is already underway as the pass was tested at Tuesday night’s New York Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden (MSG), the New York Post reported.
“The results of the pilot program will be used to enhance the quality of the application, maximizing return on investment and saving development time, prior to submission to Apple and Google for approval to go into their app stores,” the release said.
James Dolan, executive chairman of MSG Sports and CEO of MSG Entertainment, said, “We are pleased to partner with the state on this important pilot, which we hope will be another step forward in helping New York City to reopen.”
“We’re doing everything we can to vaccinate as many New Yorkers as possible, as quickly as possible, while keeping the infection rate down and re-energizing our economy in a safe, smart way,” Cuomo said.
“As we begin reopening the valves on different sectors of our economy, we are putting guidelines in place to ensure individuals attending events involving larger gatherings have tested negative for COVID or have been vaccinated to avoid an outbreak of the virus. The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way, allowing us to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal,” Cuomo continued.
Cuomo said the passes will be secure.
“Robust privacy protections are woven throughout the digital health pass solution, giving individuals a secure, verifiable and trusted way to maintain control of their personal health information using an encrypted digital smartphone wallet or printed credential. Each participant will be able to determine if they would like to use it — and if so, what passes they wish to use for which purpose — all without sharing their underlying personal data. User data is always kept completely confidential, and participation is voluntary. The QR code only informs the venue if a pass is valid or invalid,” the release said.