This ‘Vaccine Passport’ App Will Be Used for Entry to Concert Venues


New York state has rolled out a smartphone app that confirms whether someone has received a Covid-19 vaccine or a recent negative test for the coronavirus, the first such state in the U.S. to do so and an important milestone that could impact how we attend concerts and sporting events in the immediate future.

The Excelsior Pass, as it’s called, functions like the online boarding passes that airlines have been using for years, generating a unique QR code on a user’s phone that can be scanned by a “ticket taker” using a companion app at the point of entry. Individual Covid-19 vaccine providers and testing sites can upload the data to the app. Users without smart phones can print a pass or bring physical documentation directly from a healthcare provider to gain entry, and the state has promised that other types of proof can be used at the door as a way of “reducing any barriers to usage.”

Madison Square Garden has already announced it plans to begin using The Excelsior Pass in the coming weeks, along with other large venues. Smaller venues will be able to begin using it on April 2.

Governor Andrew Cuomo previously announced that outdoor venues with a capacity of 2,500 or more can operate at 20% capacity beginning on April 1. Indoor venues with a capacity of 1,500 or more will be able to open at 10% capacity. Smaller venues will be allowed to open at 33% capacity with a limit of 100 people indoors (or 200 people outdoors), but if they can verify that all attendees have tested negative for Covid-19 before entering, those limits would be increased to 150 people indoors or 500 people outdoors. All of the above limits will continue to be revised as Covid infection rates and vaccination efforts evolve in New York. The usual safety regulations of social distancing, mask-wearing, etc. will apply in all settings for the time being.

While the app’s co-developer, IBM, insists that user data will be kept confidential using blockchain technology, it has already met resistance from privacy advocates who say its privacy policy and encryption are suspect.

While full-scale, interstate touring is still a ways off from resuming due to differing local and state regulations, the Excelsior App will be utilized for sporting events in the near future, and will eventually come into the conversation for concerts as well.

More information on the Excelsior Pass is available here.

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