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Nation’s first ‘vaccine passport’ coming to New York

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The nation’s very first “vaccine passport” is coming to the Big Apple. 

The program, dubbed the “Excelsior Pass,” is an app that will allow New Yorkers to prove their vaccination status, or recent history of a negative COVID-19 test, in order to gain entry to events and businesses, Governor Cuomo announced in a news release Friday.  

“Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app,” the news release explains. 

“Each Pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination. An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.” 

The pass will allow people to show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination.
The pass will allow people to show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination.
NYS Governor’s Office

The app won’t show any health information when scanned — it’ll only show a green checkmark if the person has been vaccinated or tested negatively or a red “x” if they haven’t.

Major venues, such as Madison Square Garden and the Times Union Center in Albany, will begin using the app next week and on April 2, Excelsior Pass will expand to “smaller arts, entertainment and event venues,” Cuomo’s office said. 

The app, which launched Friday, already works to prove vaccination status or negative test results and can be used to gain access to wedding receptions, which now require negative tests from attendees, and other events above the social gathering limit. 

“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 in a statement. 

“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 app, launched after two pilot demonstrations held in recent weeks, will use blockchain technology and encryption to ensure the health information is stored securely. 

Madison Square Garden will be one of the venues to use the app starting next week.
Madison Square Garden will be one of the venues to use the app starting next week.
NYS Governor’s Office

To sign up, New Yorkers can register by downloading the app and inputting personal information to verify their identity. The app will then pull data from the state’s vaccine registry and a number of pre-approved COVID-19 testing companies.

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