New York is looking to digital health passports to restart normal life, allowing people to upload their negative test results or vaccine cards to access things like large-scale entertainment venues and sports games.
The free Excelsior Pass, which is available to download on iOS and Android, makes New York the latest destination to utilize a digital passport to enter venues requiring proof of a negative test or inoculation a more seamless experience. The state has opened up arenas, stadiums, and large music venues as well as indoor entertainment venues, but in many cases requires attendees to complete COVID-19 PCR testing in advance.
New Yorkers can use the app to retrieve test or vaccination records and store them until they expire, according to Cuomo's office. PCR test results expire after three days, a vaccine card expires after six months, and antigen test results expire after 6 hours.
Users are then issued a QR code that venues can scan along with looking at someone's photo ID. People can also pull up their records on the Excelsior Pass website and print their pass.
"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," New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. "The question of 'public health or the economy' has always been a false choice — the answer must be both."
The pass is built with IBM's Digital Health Pass solution and doesn't share underlying medical and personal information, nor store or track private health data, according to the governor's office.
The pass has already been used as part of a pilot program at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center earlier this year to verify negative test results. At the time, Cuomo said the app will allow the state to "fast-track the reopening of these businesses."
New York isn't the only place looking to digital vaccine passports as a way to jumpstart life. Several airlines, including British Airways, American Airlines, and Air New Zealand, are using these passes to simplify the boarding process.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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