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As Americans continue to inch back toward normal life as more and more vaccines are administered, so-called vaccine passports have become a widely discussed tool to safely reopen economic engines.

Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of the state’s “Excelsior Pass,” a digital platform to show proof of test results or vaccination to enter a participating business. Users will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app. Each Pass will have a secure QR code.

The platform is similar to an airline boarding pass; it’s free to use and is voluntary.

Madison Square Garden will begin using the technology next week, the governor’s office said.

Beginning April 2, Excelsior Pass will expand to smaller arts, entertainment and event venues. 

New Yorkers can choose to use Excelsior Pass to verify their COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results as needed to gain entry to major stadiums and arenas, wedding receptions, or other events above the social gathering limit.

Interested New Yorkers can opt in to use Excelsior Pass and learn more here; interested businesses can opt in and learn more here.

“New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back COVID, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure,” Cuomo said. “The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice — the answer must be both. As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening.”

The system was developed with IBM’s Digital Health Pass with a special emphasis on privacy.

Interested New Yorkers can download the Excelsior Pass Wallet app for Android here and for iOS here. Interested businesses can download the Excelsior Pass Scanner app for Android here and for iOS here.