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New York launches digital COVID-19 pass to help venues reopen

People living in New York can consider themselves lucky as they will be the first Americans to test a new digital pass called the Excelsior Pass, which will show their  vaccination status and COVID-19 test results.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of the pass on March 26, so that large venues like Madison Square Garden and other smaller business such as theaters, art venues and other arenas can reopen their gates to a larger crowd.

As the Governor Cuomo said:

“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 […]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.”

Developed in partnership with IBM, the pass can either be printed out or stored on smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app. Each pass will have a secure QR code that businesses and venues will be able to scan using a companion app to verify proof of negative coronavirus test results or proof of the vaccination.

New York Excelsior Pass

New York Excelsior Pass   Image Credit: New York State Government

Two of the largest venues, the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden (MSG) previously took part in the pilot phase to test if Excelsior Pass is a viable solution. The initial stage was during a Brooklyn Nets game at the 19,000 capacity Barclays Center on 27 February, while the second phase happened on March 2 during a New York Rangers game at MSG, having a 20,789 capacity. Besides the latter, Albany’s Times Union Center – with a capacity of 17,500 – is also one of the major venues which announced they will begin to use the pass in the near future. Smaller entertainment and event venues will be able to utilize the Excelsior Pass from April 2.

James Dolan, the executive chairman of MSG Sports and CEO of MSG Entertainment stated:

“We are grateful the state is focused on doing everything possible to reopen businesses across our region safely and quickly. The Excelsior Pass will play an important role in allowing people to gather safely, which will be critical to New York’s recovery. We were proud to be part of the Excelsior Pass pilot and look forward to participating in the programme.”

Governor Cuomo also announced in March that art, entertainment and music venues can operate from April with a reduced capacity at 33%. With the expansion of the New York Forward Rapid Test Program, the state government’s goal is to help businesses, catered events, sports games with fans and other venues safely reopen. This new public-private network of testing centers will provide New York citizens with convenient access to low-cost COVID-19 rapid tests.


Image Credit: Rukes.com