New York rolls out COVID-19 digital vaccination passport for cultural, sport events

The pandemic has altered the way we live our lives in numerous ways. It has also affected various industries, one of most the prominent ones being the travel and tourism sector across the world. But with things easing up a bit, countries and individuals are trying to get back into a routine in keeping with the new normal. As such, in a new initiative to resume live events and boost travel within the state, New York has launched a first-of-its-kind digital vaccination passport, called the Excelsior Pass, in partnership with tech giant IBM.

What is the passport all about?

The pass will help businesses and event venues verify the COVID status of a person before granting them entry.

The Excelsior Pass comes in three forms: COVID-19 Vaccination Pass, valid for 30 days; COVID-19 PCR Test Pass valid until midnight on the third day after the test; and the COVID-19 Antigen Test Pass valid for six hours after the test.

The test results or the vaccination certification needs to be then linked to the app which will provide a QR code that can be scanned by businesses and venues to verify that the person is vaccinated or COVID-negative.

Much like an airline boarding pass, iPhone and Android users can choose to print it out or store a digital version on their phones. The platform is completely free and voluntary.

digital passport, travel pandemic All set to travel in New York? (Source: Pixabay)

Participating businesses and venues can use a companion app to scan the customer’s QR code to verify his or her Covid status while keeping data secure and confidential.

“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,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice – the answer must be both.” When entering a venue that requires the Excelsior Pass, people will also have to present photo ID that shows their name and birth date, to prove that the pass belongs to them, New York State stated in a press release.

Major venues in the Empire State — including 20,000-seat Madison Square Garden in New York City and the 17,500-seat Times Union Center in Albany — are already planning to utilise the technology. Beginning April 2, Excelsior Pass will expand to smaller arts, entertainment and event venues.

However, New Yorkers will still have to follow the state and CDC guidance on social distancing, wearing face masks, and washing hands.

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