Photo: Adam McCullough/Shutterstock

Everything You Need to Know About New York City’s Vaccine Pass

New York City News
by Alex Bresler Aug 20, 2021

On August 17, an executive order mandating proof of vaccination to participate in indoor activities took effect in New York City. The directive, named the Key to NYC, has been implemented to curb the surge of COVID-19 cases in New York City due to the Delta variant. Though the Key to NYC plan is already in place, local businesses have been granted a month-long grace period to become compliant. The mandate will be officially enforced on September 13, after which establishments will be subject to fines if they’re found in violation.

Whether you’re a New York City resident or have plans to visit the Big Apple in the near future, the Key to NYC initiative requires blanket proof of vaccination. Here’s everything you need to know about patronizing indoor venues now that the order is in effect.

What constitutes proof of vaccination?

Anyone who has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO) is eligible for a Key to NYC pass. There are three ways to show proof of vaccination: present a paper vaccination card, upload a photo of a vaccination record to the NYC COVID Safe app, or download the Excelsior Pass released by New York state. The NYC COVID Safe app and Excelsior Pass also allow users to upload negative COVID-19 test results for a limited time.

Unlike the NYC COVID Safe app, which does not store information on databases, the Excelsior Pass requires users to input basic information such as their full name, date of birth, ZIP code, and phone number. Once a user’s vaccination record is verified, the Excelsior Pass will generate a QR code that can be used to enter indoor venues. Note that the Excelsior Pass is only available to those vaccinated in New York state or permanent New York residents who received their vaccinations out of state.

Where is proof of vaccination required?

The Key to NYC plan is being implemented across indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment facilities. Included in the list of venues that are required to enforce vaccination passes are restaurants, bars, nightclubs, coffee shops, gyms, indoor pools, dance and yoga studios, movie theaters, concert halls, museums and galleries, aquariums and zoos, performing arts theaters, athletic arenas, convention centers, bowling alleys, arcades, adult entertainment venues, and similar covered spaces. Businesses are allowed to permit entry to people who will be indoors for fewer than 10 minutes, such as to make a delivery or use the restroom, without requiring proof of vaccination. However, mask mandates will still be in effect.

Excluded from the list of indoor venues required to demand proof of vaccination are restaurants without indoor dining, residential and office buildings, senior and community centers, pre-kindergarten through grade 12 public and non-public schools, child care programs, charitable food services, and churches hosting potlucks or similar gatherings.

Who is required to show proof of vaccination?

Everyone looking to participate in indoor activities in New York City will need to show proof that they have received at least one dose of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine before they will be permitted entry into covered spaces. The mandate applies to residents and visitors alike, as well as both staff and patrons of indoor venues. Children under 12 who are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine are exempt from the Key to NYC requirements, as are non-resident performing artists, professional athletes, and related personnel visiting the city for work.

How can international travelers provide proof of vaccination?

Foreign nationals visiting New York City should be prepared to provide proof of vaccination at indoor venues. Any vaccine that the WHO has approved is considered valid, including the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. International travelers can download the NYC COVID Safe app to create a digital record of their government-issued vaccination card.

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