NFL

Full Capacity and Fully Vaccinated: NY Exec Unveils Plan for In-Person Buffalo Bills' Games

New York hopes to use the Excelsior Pass to fast-track the reopening of stadiums, theaters and businesses in accordance with state health guidelines

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No vaccination? No entry. At least that's the concept the Erie County executive put forth as it relates to attending Buffalo Bills games in person this season.

The NFL Bills were Gov. Andrew Cuomo's test case for reopening larger venues in person with testing and/or vaccination requirements earlier this year. That pilot became the model for reopening Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden and will guide the reopening process for larger venues going forward, officials say.

New York hopes to use its Excelsior Pass to fast-track the reopening of stadiums, theaters and businesses in accordance with state health guidelines until vaccinations reach critical mass, for which Cuomo puts the low threshold around 75 percent. (Here's a detailed look on how that first-of-its kind app works.)

In Erie County, home to Buffalo and the NFL stadium, County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Tuesday that he supports a full capacity return to the stadium this NFL season but wants to require all fans and staff to be fully vaccinated to attend.

To date, about a third of eligible Erie County residents are fully vaccinated, while nearly 50 percent have had at least one dose, Poloncarz said. Statewide, about one in five New Yorkers have completed their vaccination series.

It wasn't immediately clear how the Buffalo Bills' ownership felt about Poloncarz's proposal. The county executive also urged people to download Excelsior.

Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, people can print out their Excelsior Pass or store it on their phones using the Excelsior Pass's "Wallet App." Each pass will have a secure QR code, which venues or businesses scan using a companion app to confirm someone's COVID health status. 

According to the state, robust privacy protections are woven throughout the digital health pass solution, giving people a trusted way to maintain control of their personal information using an encrypted digital phone wallet or printed credential. People can decide for themselves if they want to use it -- it's a voluntary program -- and if they do, they can elect which passes to use for which purposes without sharing their underlying personal data. User data is kept confidential. The QR code only informs the venue if a pass is valid or invalid.

The Excelsior Pass Wallet app (for individual New Yorkers) can be downloaded for Android here and for iOS here. The Excelsior Pass Scanner app (for interested businesses) can be downloaded for Android here and for iOS here.

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