One of the most striking things about life since 2020, and perhaps even a little bit earlier, is how often people derided as “conspiracy theorists” turned out to be right about the sorts of things that those in power want to accomplish.

One of these “conspiratorial” ideas was that in the wake of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns, certain people would be issued special “passports” by the authorities that would allow them to travel, attend concerts and other mass events and do all sorts of other things that were perfectly normal parts of life before 2020. People without these special “passports” would be totally prohibited from doing these things.

Well, in New York, at least, an idea of exactly this sort is already in its embryonic stages.


Even more insidiously, it takes advantage of people’s ardent desire to reopen the state, portraying itself as a way to bring things back to normal.

New York will be pilot testing a new COVID passport program. Here is how it is slated to work.

How NY’s COVID Passports Will Work

On Tuesday, March 2, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, embroiled in scandals about both sexual harassment and the false reporting of COVID-related nursing home death statistics, announced a plan to test what he called the Excelsior Pass at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center, two of New York’s largest arenas for concerts, sporting events and the like.

The pass functions in a similar way to airline boarding passes.


People can either print out physical copies of the pass or store them on their phones in the form of a scannable QR code using an app. The QR code will contain confidential information about each person’s health status. Specifically, it will contain information about whether each person has been vaccinated against the virus or whether they have received a recent negative COVID test result.

Only if the pass reveals that one of these two conditions have been met will people be allowed to go to events at Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center.

This initial test run will be conducted for the purpose of gathering information about how such COVID passport schemes function. Based on the results, the app may be tweaked in various ways to “improve performance.”


The first run of the test occurred on February 27 during a Nets game at the Barclays Center. Cuomo says that the test went well and that further tests are planned.

Through all of this, Cuomo’s COVID restrictions still remain in effect. Only large arenas with seating capacities of at least 10,000 are allowed to start reopening, which will, of course, disproportionately hurt smaller venues. Also, such venues must restrict themselves to only 10% capacity for the time being.