New York has become the first state in the US to launch a digital health app to track test results or proof of a vaccine. The Excelsior Pass was launched this weekend throughout the state and its progress will be followed closely by other states and countries planning similar digital platforms designed to help fast-track the reopening of event venues and businesses.
The voluntary pass will be come into effect from Friday, April 2, and will have a secure QR code that participating businesses can scan to verify proof of vaccine or negative test results – both rapid antigen and PCR.
So far, Madison Square Garden in New York City – home to concerts and the city’s basketball and ice hockey teams – is the first high profile venue to jump on board, but it is anticipated that the pass will become the most effective way to gain safe entry into major stadiums as well as any venue that draws big numbers, including weddings, concerts and other big social gatherings.
On March 17, the EU introduced its plans for a Digital Green Certificate that will act much like the Excelsior Pass, but so far it’s only being suggested for the resumption of international travel rather than access to venues within each member country.
On March 18, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) wrote a letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, expressing its concerns that the introduction of a so-called ‘vaccine passport’ would impact individual citizens’ civil liberties. Although the UK government has hinted that a vaccine passport may be required for entry into domestic venues, Irish officials have so far refused to be drawn on the matter, with deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn claiming it is “too early at this point to discuss the utility of it.”