New NY pilot program confirms COVID vaccination, negative COVID test before entering entertainment venues

An example of the pass Photo: New York State. An example of the pass

Created: March 02, 2021 12:59 PM

NEW YORK, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York State Tuesday announced the "successful" launching of its pilot program for the state's Excelsior Pass, which is geared towards confirming someone's COVID vaccination, or recent negative COVID test before heading to an event.

The pilot program will focus specifically on Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to start.

In a partnership with IBM, the state says the technology behind the pass is similar to a mobile airline boarding pass. People will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones 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.

Governor Cuomo first mentioned the technology during his State of the State address in January.

The state first tested the technology last Saturday night during a National Basketball Association game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Dallas Mavericks. it will be tested for a second time during the New York Rangers game Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. 

The state says collecting the data will help "fast-track" the reopening of various entertainment venues, which, in February, were given the green light to start reopening, albeit under capacity restrictions. 

It says "robust" privacy protections are in place, as a person 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 other personal info. Participation is voluntary, and information is kept "confidential." 

The state did not say when the program would be expanded.


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