With much of New York allowed to fully reopen for business Wednesday — and relaxed CDC rules for vaccinated people at indoor venues going into effect — residents may soon find themselves having to provide proof of inoculation or a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to events or businesses.
While many other states have balked at the idea of so-called "vaccine passports," the Empire State has already rolled out a platform called the Excelsior Pass that’s being used at big events here, like Yankees and Knicks games.
Here’s what you need to know about it:
What is the Excelsior Pass?
The Excelsior Pass is a free, voluntary digital platform for New Yorkers to prove their coronavirus vaccination status, or recent history of a negative COVID-19 test.
"Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, New Yorkers can store passes digitally on their smartphones or print them out to present at participating businesses and venues," the state says on its Web site.
People can obtain a "pass" to show they’re vaccinated 15 days after they received their final coronavirus vaccine dose. The pass remains valid for 180 days, "at which time a new pass may be retrieved," according to the state.
You can also get a pass for a state-administered PCR test within three days of it being administered, or for a rapid antigen test within six hours.
How do I get the Excelsior Pass?
The NYS Excelsior Pass Wallet can be downloaded to you smartphone from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Then follow the instructions to retrieve a pass after being fully vaccinated or testing negative for COVID-19 in the Empire State.
Alternatively, New Yorkers may also obtain a pass from the Excelsior Pass Web site at https://epass.ny.gov. From the site, users can print a paper pass, take a screen shot of it or save it to the Excelsior Pass Wallet app.
Businesses and venues requiring proof of vaccination or negative test results can scan and validate the QR code on your pass for entry. People using the pass will also be asked to present a photo ID that contains their name and birth date to prove it belongs to them.
Do I need an Excelsior Pass?
No. The program is voluntary. New Yorkers can also opt to show businesses or venues proof of vaccination using other digital means or with a valid inoculation record — like the paper CDC card.
Some venues that have already been accepting the Excelsior Pass as an option include Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, which have been open with limited seating for fans.
But it could soon become more widely used.
Large sports stadiums and arenas are set to begin dividing seating sections into "vaccinated" and "unvaccinated" sections — and some owners have indicated that far more space will be dedicated to the former, which won’t require masks or social distancing.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week that Radio City Music Hall will reopen at 100 percent capacity on June 19 for the closing night of the Tribeca Film Festival — but will require all patrons to be vaccinated.
Meanwhile, New York on Wednesday lifted many COVID-19 safety restrictions, including occupancy limits on venues like restaurants, churches, gyms, museums and theaters.
Businesses are still supposed to have enough space for customers to keep 6 feet of social distancing — but officials have said establishments can ignore that so long as they require proof of a negative test or vaccination.
As of Wednesday, vaccinated New Yorkers are also free to go mask-less in most indoor settings so long as the business permits it. Some are requiring proof, although many are relying on an honor system.
In New York, masks are still required on in schools, nursing homes, healthcare settings and on public transportation.
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