New app will help reopen music, arts and sports venues

Photo provided by the Governor’s Office

With sporting events slowly starting to allow limited fan attendance, New York State is preparing to expand that to arts and entertainment venues.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that events, arts and entertainment venues can begin to reopen at 33 percent capacity starting April 2. These venues will be up to 100 people indoors and up to 200 people outdoors but if all attendees present proof of negative COVID-19 tests prior to entry, the capacity can increase up to 150 people indoors and up to 500 people outdoors.

Social distancing and face coverings will be required for all attendees and there will be strict adherence to all guidelines by the Department of Health.

This follows the announcement last month by Cuomo that arenas with more than 10,000 capacity can start to allow fans at a strict 10 percent limit. Since February 23, fans have been able to watch basketball and hockey games in person across New York State for the first time in almost a year.

“New Yorkers have done a tremendous job working to defeat COVID, and we’re gradually loosening restrictions as the numbers reduce and the public health improves,” Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s clear that if we remain vigilant, we will reach the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Prior to this news, Cuomo also announced the launch of a pilot program to test the new Excelsior Pass during events at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center. Developed in partnership with IBM, the pass will be able to confirm an individual’s vaccination or if someone has had a recent negative COVID-19 test.

The Excelsior Pass will use proven, secure technology and confidential data transfer to help fast-track the reopening of arenas, stadiums, theatres and other businesses across New York State.

Users of the Excelsior Pass will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass’s “Wallet App.” A QR code will appear on each pass, which venues will scan using a companion app to verify someone’s health information.

The pass has already been successfully tested through the pilot program during a Brooklyn Nets game at the Barclays Center on February 27. More tests will be conducted in the coming days at other sporting venues in the state including Madison Square Garden.

“As we begin reopening the valves on different sectors of our economy, we are putting guidelines in place to ensure individuals attending events involving larger gatherings have tested negative for COVID or have been vaccinated to avoid an outbreak of the virus,” Cuomo said.

New gathering limits were announced at a press conference on Wednesday.

The motive from this Excelsior Pass is that it will fast-track the reopening of businesses and getting back to a normal life by providing this information in a fast, convenient way. As more people get vaccinated in the state, the hope is that more activities will be permitted within public health guidelines.

The current statewide positivity rate is at 2.81 percent which is lowest since November 21. Regarding vaccines, 16.2 percent of the statewide population has received at least one dose while 8.6 percent have completed the vaccine series.