Handshakes and hugs are out – so what's the new global etiquette?

Nice to meet you: Handshakes and hugs are out — so what’s the new global etiquette?

  • Handshakes and hugs were stopped when the coronavirus pandemic took hold
  • But there are alternative greetings – and not only the ‘Wuhan shake’ foot-tap
  • There’s the Thai Wai, the Hawaiian shaka sign as well as the formal Japanese bow 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Arriving at the Prince’s Trust Awards in March, Prince Charles was about to go in for a handshake when, mindful of social-distancing rules, he quickly changed tack.

He offered a namaste instead, putting palms together with his fingers pointing up — the traditional Hindu salutation.

Handshakes and hugs were abandoned overnight when the pandemic took hold. 

New normal? In Japan, people tend to greet one another with a formal bow

Such changes in greetings may mean air kisses on an eventual trip to France are met with a Gallic shrug, and the Maori hongi, where people press their noses and foreheads together, is consigned to history.

Anthony Fauci, a leading U.S. public health official, has said: ‘I don’t think we should ever shake hands again.’

It’s a hard habit to break. The humble handshake dates back to Ancient Greek and Roman times, and featured in their art as a symbol of peace.

It’s believed it was born out of distrust, however. Romans grasped each other’s forearms to check there were no daggers hidden up their sleeves. But there are alternatives — and not only the ‘Wuhan shake’ foot-tap.

The Thai wai, for example, involves bowing your head with your palms together, as a gesture of openness. It’s popular in south-east Asia and is used in prayer and dance.

Meanwhile, the formal bow was introduced to Japan between the 5th and 7th centuries, and remains de rigueur in a country that prides itself on etiquette.

At the Prince’s Trust Awards in March, Prince Charles offered a namaste rather than a handshake 

We could adopt this for formal settings, with the degree of bow matching the level of respect you feel for one another.

For a spiritual symbol, look to the Middle East. Place your right hand on your heart, sacred in Islam as the seat of the soul, and say, ‘As-salaam alaikum’ (peace be upon you).

The Hawaiian shaka sign, with the three middle fingers curled and thumb and little finger extended, could even be adopted beyond the surfing community, who know it as meaning ‘hang loose’.

Or there’s the Zambian ‘cup and clap’ — cup your hands together and clap a couple of times while saying, ‘Muli bwanji’ (how are you?).

But back to the namaste. In Sanskrit, it means ‘the highest in me salutes the highest in you’. It’s appropriate at a time when we’re meant to be appreciating each other more, while keeping our distance. Prince Charles may have set a trend.  

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Camping & caravan sites reopen: New rules revealed as caravans deemed ‘safest’ holiday

Caravan holidays and camping trips are set to rise this year as Britons remain in the UK for their holidays post-coronavirus. A National Caravan Council NCC survey this week confirmed a huge 93 percent of those surveyed intend to holiday or take a short break in the UK after the lockdown. Motorhome and caravan dealerships across the country are preparing for reopening on Monday, after a surge in interest online in caravans and motorhomes.

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British leisure vehicle manufacturer, Swift Group, recently revealed its web traffic increased over 40 percent since Boris Johnson announced the initial lockdown easing on May 10, compared to the two weeks prior.

Interestingly, growth has been driven by a younger audience between 18 to 44 years old, whose visits to the site are up by nearly 50 percent.

Nick Page, Group Commercial Director from Swift Group said: “We are seeing a really promising trend emerging, which after a hard few months for the industry, is welcome news to UK caravan and motorhome manufacturers.

“Holiday parks are a brilliant option to enable social distancing, and as caravans and motorhomes are self-contained, will be one of the safest holiday options for those looking to get out around the UK this year.”

The NCC is now working with the government to allow the safe re-opening of caravan holiday parks and touring sites in England as soon as possible.

Currently, those offering holiday accommodation – such as hotels and resorts as well as caravan parks – may be permitted to open from July 4.  

The NCC is calling on the government to lift the closure notices on caravan parks across the UK so they can reopen as soon as possible.

The trade body has now issued extremely robust safety guidelines.

The guidance outlines advice to enable caravan parks to develop their own COVID-19 safety protocol and give assurances that measures have been put in place to protect staff, customers and, as a consequence those in the nearby local community, so they can reopen.

A phased opening of caravan parks has been proposed by the NCC to the government. 

Unlike hotels, there are no safety issues with shared facilities or accommodation at caravan parks, as the units are self-contained and 95 percent are privately owned, thus providing a safe form of holiday accommodation.

Caravans and motorhomes are ‘socially distanced by design’ and rules on parks mean that caravans must be five or six metres apart.  

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The vast majority of caravans have their own cooking and washing facilities, providing the safest form of holidaying possible at the moment.

NCC Director General, John Lally commented: “The reopening of dealerships is a huge relief for the industry as we are able to start to respond to the public interest in both renting and buying caravans and motorhomes in the coming months.

“The UK’s holiday parks benefit from rural and coastal locations, away from densely populated urban areas, and each park is working to put in place social distancing measures which will make it the best option for holidays in the UK this year.

“We are working with the government to look into reopening holiday parks as early as possible with strict social distancing measures, as outlined in the guidance, to enable the industry to get back to work and hard-working families to enjoy full use of their caravans again.”

Further findings from the NCC show that in the first months after lockdown, 70 percent of UK adults said they perceive a holiday caravan-based UK break as a socially acceptable activity. 

Motorhoming did even better, with 77 percent, indicating it as an appealing option.

These holiday types were regarded as much more acceptable than, say, a city break to a major European city.

A Longwoods survey found that 82 percent of people travelling in 2020 made changes to their travel plans due to COVID-19. 

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What is the hotel experience like now and after COVID-19? – A Luxury Travel Blog

The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially changed our lives for the past months. During the lockdown, we all drastically missed our freedom – and even more the freedom to travel. But easing around the globe is slowly beginning with the prospect of resuming, reasonable normality once again. The pandemic has affected the entire world, and every country has taken different measures to combat the effects of the pandemic. Furthermore, every country and region has adopted its own specific ways to best deal with improvement strategies after the pandemic outbreak.

China is the first to open

China’s tourism industry was hit the hardest by the pandemic. But now the first planes are taking off again and the hotels open their welcoming doors again. While, many guests have been enjoying themselves in China for 3 week-long stays, this is now imminent in Europe. The United States is expected to follow in a few weeks. The luxury hotels in China are already enjoying a 35% occupancy, which gives reason for a positive outlook.

The up and rising trend now is domestic travel and longer stays

We are all individually looking forward to a break and a change of scenery from the quarantine. The trend to guarantee the best of safety, over the next few weeks and months will be domestic travel and longer stays in one hotel instead of combining several hotels. This allows everyone to explore the beauty of once own country. Where, within your limits, you have mostly only spent weekend stays in recent years, now the opportunity has risen to experience your own country intensively in 2020.

The post COVID-19 hotel experience

With the joy of being able to reopen hotels, the governments have imposed policies and many safety regulations. Hotels are now complying and adapting to the regulations in place while also being concerned about offering the highest service standards and experiences. The safety regulations are different for every country, and therefore cannot be described as a general hotel experience under the situation. The only measure in place that will be standardized everywhere, is that guests are entrusted with the new regulations at check-in and must ensure compliance with a signature.

Post COVID-19 in China

China has seen significant changes in hotels in the last 3 weeks. While the hotel employees were fitted with full-body protective suits at the beginning of the outbreak, today the employees are just wearing a mask. Hotels measure every guest’s temperature at Check-in and must also show the green health code on their app. This app is operated by Alipay and is based on a self-declaration basis. In all hotels, the wellness areas are the most severely affected by the strictest safety restrictions. Saunas are still closed, and there are different procedures for the use of the pools. The requirements are either being enrolled on a list, that defines how long you can use the pool – or pools are controlled and supervised by tenants that ensure that every guest has a 6m2 of pool space between them available. All employees wear masks in all areas of the hotel. Guests are required to wear masks in the lobby and public areas. While in restaurants and the rooms the wearing of a mask can be excluded. In the rooms themselves, the guest feels no difference, except that from time to time it can smell of disinfectant.

Post COVID-19 in Europe

Europe is in a new phase with hotels re-opening. Generally, having a much more moderate process than in China. In Berlin, guests are not en-forced and required to wear a mask in hotels – but employees always wear masks. Yet, if guests prefer to wear a mask the hotels generally will provide masks. Disinfectants can be found at various locations in the hotel. Wellness areas in Europe mostly remain closed for the time being. Here, too, there will be safety procedures in re-opening with solutions very much like imposed in China. Social distancing is practiced in the restaurants and half of all tables are removed. The design aesthetics of the hotels will suffer from this in many places, but the safety of guests coming first is placed on the highest priority. In the kitchens, too, there is stricter and special safety regulation for handling food so as not to offer any source of danger. Many hotels will refrain from taking temperature measurements during check-in, if the regulations allow it. It is of great importance for the hotels to offer their valued guest an experience and environment that is as normal possible.

How long will it all go on?

The hardest fact about this pandemic is, there is no predicting when and whether it will end. But fears and worries won‘t get us anywhere – optimism must prevail. We have to get back to our lives before this outbreak, prehaps now with more gatitude and willingness, to enjoy and create special moments and allow our passions to soar once again. We may still see setbacks here and there, and probably we will experience life differently than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, travelling will still be an important part of our lives. We are in contact with authorities from various countries every day – if you have a question about the feasibility or safety of a trip, you can contact us and we are available to advise and help.

Guido Graf is Founder of Privateupgrades. Privateupgrades is a global luxury travel club with over 20 years of experience in luxury hotels, ensuring exclusive VIP privileges like upgrades, free breakfast, free nights, rate discounts, free airport transfers, free massages and much more.

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Pilot reveals you should always wear shoes onboard for this terrifying reason

Pilots know all about the unexpected situations that can arise when flying. Though accidents and plane crashes are an out-of-the-ordinary scenario, pilots are still trained to know how to deal with them, and this is why passengers are given instructions.

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Travellers onboard may have noticed being told to keep their shoes on during take-off and landing, and it turns out this is a preparation in case the worst does indeed happen.

According to Ben Sherwood, author of The Survivors Club — The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life, 80 percent of all crashes happen within the first three minutes of a flight or in the last eight minutes before landing.

Therefore both passengers and crew need to be geared up to make a speedy escape – which is where your shoes come in.

Speaking to TripSavy, an anonymous pilot who works for a major airline explained: “God forbid there was an emergency, you wouldn’t want to evacuate a plane that might be on fire or standing in mud and weeds wearing a pair of flip-flops.”

This was echoed by a Qatar Airways flight attendant, who told The Points Guy: “You should keep your shoes on during takeoff and landing because that’s the most dangerous part of the flight.”

Not only are shoes important in helping you make a quick escape, but keeping your shoes on will also protect your fellow fliers.

Shoes cluttering the aisle or even the row you are seated in can become a potential tripping hazard, or slow down someone else’s escape route.

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Aside from emergencies, there is another more disgusting reason passengers should consider keeping their footwear firmly in place.

“Please do not ever walk into a toilet with bare feet,” an anonymous flight attendant wrote in a Reddit forum.

“I promise you, nine times out of 10, that is not water on the floor.”

They added: “The toilets are often absolutely disgusting and get deep cleaned only at the end of a route.

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“For us, this could be from one side of the world to the other… imagine how lovely they are at the end of a 12-hour flight with 200 people using them.”

Another flight attendant posted: “So many incidents occur on the plane that everyday passengers don’t see or consider.

“Pee and poop happens, all over. I feel like I witness an ‘accident’ regularly; in their seat or in the lav.”

For travellers who aren’t sure which of their shoes to wear, a group of frequent fliers have shared their top tips on the best shoes to opt for before jetting off.

Across the board, it seems passengers are focussed on shoes that are comfortable, as well as easy to get on and off.

“I fly often, and I just wear my regular everyday slip-on loafers,” suggested one traveller.

“If it’s a long haul flight, I take them off once I get to my seat and wear those disposable hotel slippers (I always have one or two in my carry on) for the duration of the flight.”

Another added: “Running shoes, with the lace lose enough to slip on and off without tying.”

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Pound to euro exchange rate: GBP ‘treads water’ against the euro as US-China tensions soar

The pound managed to stay within a “tight range” to the euro yesterday despite Brexit concerns dominating the headlines. Today, the pound is currently trading at a rate of 1.1118 against the euro according to Bloomberg at the time of writing. The rate is currently dipping just below the 1.12 handle, leaving it in a vulnerable position today.

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  • Pound to euro exchange rate: GBP ‘struggles’ against the euro

At roughly this time yesterday, the pound was trading at 1.1136 against the euro, which is higher than today’s rate.

Although the rate seems to be lower, the rates stayed in relatively close range to one another.

Michael Brown, Currency Expert at Caxton FX, spoke to Express.co.uk to provide exclusive insight into the current exchange rate.

“Sterling trod water against the euro yesterday, trading within a relatively tight range, as the day was dominated by month-end dollar selling, resulting in relatively little volatility for currency crosses,” he said.

“Today, that theme is likely to continue, while investors will also continue to pay close attention to simmering Sino-US tensions.”

US President Donald Trump signalled on Thursday that a China-US trade deal may be off the table.

On Thursday, China voted to overthrow Hong Kong’s independence with a new national security law.

Trump said to reporters: “We are not happy with China.

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“We are not happy with what’s happened.”

But as well as China’s recent actions in Hong Kong, Trump has also been critical of China’s alleged hand in the coronavirus outbreak which originated in Wuhan.

The pandemic has now claimed the lives of more than 350,000 worldwide.

George Vessey, UK Currency Strategist from Western Union Business Solutions said that a “disruptive” Brexit may mean investors lose confidence.

He said: “The pound extended its retreat from two-week peaks yesterday as investors weighed up the possibility of negative interest rates in the UK and increasing fears of a disruptive Brexit.

“The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, reiterated that an extension to the transition period is not an option, which fuelled further sterling weakness.

“Mr Frost raised concerns about the UK-EU trade talks lacking progress – with a deal on fisheries still proving difficult despite the EU seemingly ready to make some compromises earlier this week.

“Although there has been optimism across financial markets about a faster economic recovery amid the easing lockdown measures, the pound will remain exposed to headline risks around Brexit as the last round of talks next month draw nearer ahead of the special EU summit later in the month.”

Mr Vessey also said that fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections are also impacting sterling.

He added: “GBP/USD fell around 1.5 cents from the its high yesterday, whilst GBP/EUR snapped a four-day winning streak, to end over a cent lower.

“Fears of a second wave of infections as Britain exit’s lockdown, coupled with no-trade deal Brexit woes, negative interest rates and soaring government debt all point towards further downside for sterling.

“GBP/USD may soon test $1.20, whilst €1.10 remains a key support for GBP/EUR.”

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Drury Hotels Announces New Protocols and Partnership With Ecolab

WHY IT RATES: Drury Hotels has enhanced sanitization initiatives so travelers can have peace of mind during their stays. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

Drury Hotels Company is partnering with Ecolab Inc. – a global leader in hygiene and infection prevention solutions for the hospitality industry – to keep its guests and team members safe. In this collaborative effort, Drury will use Ecolab products as part of enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures in its more than 150 hotels nationwide.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened people’s awareness of the spread of germs and the need for increased sanitization,” said Alison Casler, chief human resources officer of Drury Hotels. “Our Travel Happy® Again, Clean + Safe initiatives, solidified by our partnership with Ecolab, have allowed us to confidently deliver a higher level of cleanliness and safety for our guests and team members.”

In addition to partnering with Ecolab, Drury has updated its check-in procedure to reduce contact, implemented visual cues for social distancing and modified the service for its free hot breakfast and evening reception.

Drury has continued to serve the communities where the company has hotels by keeping all of its hotels open to provide lodging to traditional guests as well as to first responders and essential frontline workers.

“For more than 45 years, Drury Hotels has focused on providing clean rooms and exceptional service,” said Chuck Drury, president and CEO of Drury Hotels. “This is particularly important today as we adjust to living with COVID-19. The enhancements being made throughout our hotels will help ensure a clean, safe environment, so our guests can feel comfortable and confident while staying with us.”

More information about Drury Hotels’ ongoing efforts to keep guests and team members safe can be found on the company’s Travel Happy Again, Clean + Safe website.

Drury Hotels has been family-owned and operated since 1973. For a complete listing of all Drury hotels or for reservations, visit www.druryhotels.com or call 1-800-DRURYINN.

SOURCE: Drury Hotels press release.

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Future of travel? One country’s draconian new rules for visitors in the age of coronavirus



a large white building with Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the background

At TPG, we paused traveling to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Local and federal governments around the globe are now debating the appropriate levels of isolation and distancing. Before booking that next trip, we recommend you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions. TPG is continuing to publish deals, reviews and general travel news to inform and prepare you for that trip, whether it is next month or next year.

In what could a preview of future international travel, the United Arab Emirates is unveiling some fairly draconian ways of tracking visitors, foreign workers and its own citizens in an effort to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The U.A.E. is hoping to welcome tourists back by July or September at the latest, but it’s unclear if that will include Americans.

The United Arab Emirates which includes the city-states of Dubai and Abu Dhabi said it was imposing a $13,000 fine on visitors (and residents) who violate strict anti-coronavirus measures. Those measures include tracking “bracelets” and mandatory tracking apps. Violators face steep fines for a variety of violations, and will also be “named and shamed” with their pictures posted in local media. Repeat offenders would be referred for prosecution and face prison. There are lots of other fines too including a fine of $800 for not wearing a mask.

The United Arab Emirates is beginning to ease some strict lockdown measures, but is still not welcoming tourists and a curfew remains in effect. There are some flights between the U.S. and Abu Dhabi. On May 13, Dubai-based Emirates said it was resuming service to nine international destinations including London, Chicago and Melbourne, among other destinations.

The country is back under a mandatory curfew from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. every day after a resurgence of cases. 

The U.A.E. is made up of seven sheikhdoms, and foreigners make up 90% of the population. It has had more than 29,000 cases and at least 245 deaths. Foreigners who live and work in U.A.E. are being allowed back in, but they need prior authorization from the government and are still required to quarantine upon arrival.

Anyone entering the U.A.E. is required to install a tracking app and wear an electronic bracelet to enable contact tracing in the event of exposure to COVID-19.  An app called ‘Alhosn’ was rolled out in April.  Widespread testing for coronavirus is also being expanded fairly widely. The government says more than one million tests have been administered.

Salem Al Zaabi, acting chief prosecutor of the Emergencies and Disasters Prosecution in the federal public prosecution said, “Anyone, who does not install or register in the COVID-19 tracing app on purpose and anyone who causes damage to the electronic bracelet or causes its malfunction, shall pay a Dh10,000 (US$2,722) fine with the repair costs.”

Shopping malls have reopened with strict new rules on social distancing, but public spaces such as cinemas, schools and sports facilities will stay closed. Some bars and restaurants have opened with strict limits on crowd sizes and following curfews.

Rules vary by region with Abu Dhabi and Dubai having slightly different takes on battling the virus. In fact, Dubai will track peoples’ temperatures and make sure they are maintaining social distances with security cameras. CCTV is widespread in Dubai. Dubai police and the government already have a facial-recognition database from its national ID card system which residents use for fast-track immigration at Dubai International Airport.

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Oasis Travel Network Offers Members More Flexibility With Launch of New 'Build-a-Plan' Program

WHY IT RATES: The new program will allow travel advisors to manage their budget better by selecting services based on their individual business needs.—Jessica Zickefoose, TravelPulse Associate Editor

OASIS Travel Network—an award-winning host travel agency, today announced that beginning May 2020, it will replace its traditional Basic, Elite and Platinum plans with an all-new “Build-A-Plan” program, letting travel advisors customize their membership by choosing from one of four new commission levels based on their individual business needs.

Those who come on board by May 31, 2020 will receive “early-bird” discounts, including an additional month free with a purchase of any annual component. All members opting into the “Build-A-Plan” will also receive free membership into the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), the world’s largest association of travel professionals.

“It’s no doubt that the past few months have been a challenge for the travel industry overall, and we wanted to use the downtime to create a new program that will help our members manage their budgets better so the Build-A-Plan program was born,” said Kelly Bergin, President of OASIS Travel Network. “When this pandemic passes, we want our members to still be in business so we are offering membership choices that work for many different business models. We’re incredibly proud of this program and know it will help our members in this time of uncertainty.”

OASIS Travel Network’s ‘Build-A-Plan’ program will continue to provide the network’s members with the tools needed to operate a successful travel business. Among the many exclusive offerings to better promote a travel advisor’s business are high-tech, branded websites with an integrated hotel and cruise booking engine, best in class email and print marketing through Signature Travel Network, an automatic client booking management system—an associate program to grow business, and value-added perks to help with repeat and referral clients. Additionally, a mobile application for the client’s itinerary is included as an added benefit.

“In difficult times like these, especially as a travel advisor, I am proud to be a member of OASIS Travel Network,” says seasoned travel advisor Nancy Kays, owner and president of Primetime Getaways, Inc. “Travel is an essential part of so many lives and with the new Build-A-Plan program, I will have access to even more tools to help travelers book safe and memorable experiences. I am grateful to OASIS Travel Network for their passion towards the industry and its members, and I’m excited to continue the journey!”

For more information on OASIS Travel Network, oasistravelnetwork.com.

SOURCE: Oasis Travel Network press release.

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SeaDream Yacht Club to Resume Sailing in Norway on June 20

SeaDream Yacht Club, which paused operations in March, plans to start sailing again June 20 in Norway.

The nine new Norwegian voyages on SeaDream I through September include destinations hand-picked by SeaDream’s Norwegian founder and owner, Atle Brynestad.

The Norway program includes seven-day voyages between Oslo and Bergen and a 12-day voyage from Oslo to Tromsø and back – with three days in Lofoten, one of Norway’s premier destinations. SeaDream will offer new Yachting Land Adventures so guests can fully experience each port.

As the Covid-19 pandemic developed, SeaDream was able to avoid contamination but decided to pause operations because of the resulting travel restrictions. The yachts moved to Lisbon where the crew chose to stay on board and have been kept busy doing maintenance and upgrades.

They’re also having some fun – a basketball hoop was installed on the pool deck – and keeping calm and in shape with yoga and other activities. The chefs are designing new dishes, and the deck crew has painted, replaced the teak deck, and performed other maintenance tasks.

SeaDream continues to closely monitor the global health and travel restrictions and can adapt itineraries as needed.

“It has been very apparent from our frequent video calls with the onboard teams that without our guests, the yachts are simply not the same and that the crew genuinely miss serving our loyal guests,” said SeaDream’s Andreas Brynestad.

While SeaDream usually operates in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, the yachts have been to Norway before. But this time they are going north of the Arctic Circle so that guests can experience the midnight sun, the Lofoten Fjords, and Tromsø.

The SeaDream experience is known for its personalized service, five-star cuisine, intimate ports and onboard features such as the Balinese Dream Beds to sleep under the stars and the watersports marina with water toys. For additional details, click here.

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