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New York launches Excelsior Pass to use to enter theaters, arenas, other events

Each pass has a secure QR code, which businesses and venues can scan to verify proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result.

NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of Excelsior Pass on Friday.

It is a free, voluntary platform that allows an individual to provide digital proof of being vaccinated or confirm a recent negative PCR COVID-19 test or antigen test result.

The new platform, developed in partnership with IBM, will help fast-track the reopening of businesses and event venues in accordance with New York State Department of Health guidelines.

"As an organization, we're really going to look forward to exploring with the app," said Chautauqua Institution Interim Senior Vice President Deborah Sunya Moore Friday.

The app is similar to an airplane boarding pass, where people will either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones, using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app.

Each pass has a unique QR code, where participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination but the app is still in its infancy.

"It's really too early to tell if this affects any of our timelines of course Chautauqua Institution is already planning to be open and the biggest question as we work with the state of New York is how open can we be," Sunya Moore added.

The Institution's amphitheater and outdoor pavilion both plan on hosting concerts and outdoor theatre productions and could very well utilize the app for entry but a final decision has not been made.

One key barrier remains, the state can only verify vaccinations or COVID tests completed in New York State which is something Sunya Moore hopes the state looks to expand.

New York State is the first state in the United States to formally launch this type of app. Two successful pilot demonstrations were held in recent weeks at MSG and the Barclay's Center, along with a beta test, where thousands of New Yorkers participated in a limited rollout of the technology to provide feedback on user interface and results.

Other Western New York venues including Art Park and the National Comedy Center are also still figuring out whether they'll use the app but are intrigued.

"We’re excited about the potential of the Excelsior app for National Comedy Center live events as well as private events hosted at our museum, but we are still learning how we can integrate it with our health and safety protocols," a spokesperson for The National Comedy Center said in a statement.

"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," Governor Cuomo said.

The signup process involves providing your vaccination or testing information, along with your first and last name, date of birth, and zip code. The state then cross-references that information with state records and either issues or denies a pass.

There's also a smartphone free version, where you can print out your pass at home and bring it to a venue.

A disclaimer states that the information provided can be used by third parties that are working with the state. HIPAA protection will not apply as well.

"The website is not provided to you by a health care provider, so, as such, you are not providing protected health information for health care treatment, payment, or operations (as defined under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)."

Interested New Yorkers can opt in to use Excelsior Pass and learn more by clicking here. Interested businesses can opt-in and learn more by clicking here.

You can download the Excelsior Pass Wallet app on Android and on iOS.