‘Vaccine passport’ app for large stadiums, arenas tested in New York

Coronavirus
People use the new york coronavirus vaccine passport app

The Excelsior Pass allows users to securely store COVID-19 testing and vaccination information to gain access to venues that require proof of COVID health status. (Credit: New York Governor’s Office)

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New York officials are testing a new mobile app that could be your ticket into places like Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center as the state slowly reopens venues for sports, concerts and other events.

The Excelsior Pass works much like a so-called “vaccine passport.” The app, developed in partnership with IBM, uses encrypted smartphone wallet technology to prove a person’s recent negative COVID-19 test or confirm they are fully vaccinated against the virus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo touted the app as a way to fast-track the safe reopening of theaters, stadiums and other businesses that operate in densely populated settings.

“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,” Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”

The app was successfully tested during the Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center on Feb. 27 and again on Tuesday during the New York Rangers game at MSG.

Here’s how it works:

  • Users can link their COVID-19 test or vaccination information to the app using a confidential and secure data transfer.
  • Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, users can either print out their pass or store it on their smartphone using the Excelsior Pass’s “Wallet App.”
  • Each pass will have a secure QR code, which venues will scan using a companion app to confirm someone’s COVID health status. 

The Excelsior Pass could be a game-changer for larger venues reopening under state coronavirus guidelines, which include a requirement that all staff and customers provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to the event. 

Venues with a seating capacity greater than 10,000 were allowed to reopen at 10% capacity beginning Feb. 23. Face coverings, social distancing and temperature checks are also required.

Additionally, the state Department of Health must approve any event before it takes place.

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