The US State of New York will this weekend launch the first coronavirus passport app in the country to help fast-track the reopening of entertainment venues.
Developed in partnership with IBM, the Excelsior Pass uses secure technology to confirm an individual’s vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test through a confidential data transfer.
The pass, which was trialled earlier this month at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center, will be accepted at large-scale venues, as well as dozens of event, arts and entertainment venues statewide.
Major venues have already announced they will begin utilising this technology in the coming weeks, including Madison Square Garden beginning next week and the Times Union Center in Albany. Beginning April 2, Excelsior Pass will expand to smaller arts, entertainment and event venues.
Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals are able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass’s ‘Wallet App.’ Each pass has a secure QR code, which venues can scan using a companion app to confirm someone’s COVID-19 health status.
The app is funded by the state and available for free to businesses and anyone with vaccination records or test results in New York.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has supported the pass as a means to help the industries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic to recover. He 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.”
In line with state guidelines, announced last month, only venues with a capacity of 10,000 or more would be permitted to stage events with a limited number of spectators. As part of major stadium and arena reopening guidelines announced by the Governor on February 10, venues must ensure that all staff and spectators receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the event.
According to the State, several labs have committed to rapid reporting of COVID test results to the State Department of Health’s Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS), which would help ensure that Excelsior Pass users are able to receive their testing results in the required window of time before an event.
Jen Lyon, founder of NY Independent Venue Association (NYIVA) and owner of MeanRed Productions, said: “NYIVA is very excited that New York is leading in creating solutions for ways to open our venues and keep our audiences safe.
“It’s been a long year of closure and we have a lot of work ahead of us until we return New York State to the arts and culture Mecca that we have always been. We look forward to continuing to work hand in hand with the Governor’s reopening team to give our members the tools and support they need to bring our arts and culture sector back to life.”