Traveling with kids during covid: 9 questions, answered

Many families this year are choosing vacation options similar to last year’s, said Rainer Jenss, founder of the Family Travel Association: beach vacation rentals, dude ranches or camping. He said that while issues like mask-wearing for small children add “another stress point in an already stressful process,” many vaccinated adults are making the decision to travel with their children to see loved ones.

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US travel ban, Astroworld Festival, COVID-19 vaccines for kids, Seresto flea collar, Ahmaud Arbery. It’s Monday’s news.


The United States’ travel ban is over. The latest on the tragedy at Astroworld Festival. And should the Seresto flea collar be banned?

👋 It’s Laura! The rumors are true: It’s Monday. Here’s the news.

But first, who’s cutting onions in here? 😭 This guy’s best man couldn’t make it to his wedding, so he had the bestest man step in

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Have vaccine, can travel to America

It’s a party in the USA! A rush of international travelers headed toward U.S. borders Monday as the COVID-19 travel ban ended and people from dozens of countries were allowed in, more than 600 days since they were barred from entry. Long lines formed at the Canadian and Mexican borders well before daybreak, and eager travelers boarded flights from Europe, including dueling departures from London’s Heathrow. The U.S.-Mexican border is typically the world’s busiest crossing, where about 350 million people cross annually. The new U.S. entry requirements require foreign air passengers to test negative for the virus before boarding a plane to the country and, if they are 18 or older, to show proof of full vaccination. Travelers entering the USA on land or by ferry for nonessential reasons must show proof of vaccination.

Astroworld refunds offered, lawsuits filed

Travis Scott and festival organizers are issuing “full refunds” to all those who purchased tickets for Astroworld, where his Houston concert took a tragic turn that left eight dead and many injured. The first three of what could be many lawsuits were being filed in the aftermath of the event three days ago. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said he filed on behalf of survivor Noah Gutierrez and expects to file on behalf of others soon. Gutierrez, 21, described a scene of “chaos and desperation,” Crump said. Scott, an eight-time Grammy-nominated rapper and Houston native, released a statement expressing his sorrow over Friday’s events.

What everyone’s talking about

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Neighbor ‘cornered’ Ahmaud Arbery, officer says

The first police officer on the scene of Ahmaud Arbery’s killing told jurors Monday that one of three white men charged with murder “cornered” Arbery before the Black 25-year-old was fatally shot. Ricky Minshew, a former Glynn County Police Officer, said he spoke with William “Roddie” Bryan when he arrived on the scene, who told Minshew he “blocked,” “cornered” and “cut off” Arbery five times. Monday marked the beginning of the first full week of testimony in the trial of Bryan and father and son Greg and Travis McMichael. In the morning, jurors heard from an investigator who documented the crime scene and took a series of graphic photos. The three defendants are accused of murder and other crimes in the death of Arbery, who was shot three times at close range with a shotgun. Video of the incident, captured by Bryan, was released by a Georgia attorney two months later, prompting national outrage.

Seresto maker defends flea collar amid calls for a ban

The company behind the popular Seresto flea-and-tick collar filed a lengthy defense of the safety of its product amid calls for federal regulators to ban it over concerns of harm and death to the pets who wear it. In a public comment to the Environmental Protection Agency filed last month, Elanco said its collar is safe despite reports of more than 86,000 adverse incidents, including 2,340 pet deaths, since it hit the market nine years ago. Those incidents, Elanco said in its 41-page comment, are probably related to other factors, not the collar. Now that the public comment period has closed, the EPA will review the comments as it decides whether to cancel the collar’s registration. A cancellation would mean the company could no longer use the pesticides in its collars.

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Jill Biden visits schools in a push to get kids vaccinated

First lady Jill Biden kicked off the administration’s push to encourage parents to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 by visiting an elementary school that played a historic role during the polio epidemic. The Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia, was the first school to administer the polio vaccine in 1954. Biden plans to visit pediatric vaccination clinics across the county over the coming weeks, now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 through 11.

A break from the news

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Coronavirus Updates: Virus has taken caregivers of 140,000 U.S. kids

NEW YORK (WABC) — More than 140,000 US children have lost a parent or grandparent who takes care of them to Covid-19, CDC researchers reported Thursday, which is as many as one in 500 US kids.

Children from racial and ethnic minorities were far more likely to lose such a caregiver, the CDC-led team found.

“The findings illustrate orphanhood as a hidden and ongoing secondary tragedy caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and emphasizes that identifying and caring for these children throughout their development is a necessary and urgent part of the pandemic response — both for as long as the pandemic continues, as well as in the post-pandemic era,” the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which helped pay for the study, said in a statement.

National Center for Health Statistics data through June showed children of racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 65% of those who lost a primary caregiver, while White children accounted for 35%, even though minorities account for just 39% of the US population.

Here are more of today’s COVID-19 headlines:

New York reaches COVID vaccine milestone
Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Saturday that 85% of adult New Yorkers have now received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. “Yesterday, we hit a major milestone. Eighty-five percent of adult New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, putting us one step closer to ending this pandemic and getting our lives back to normal,” Governor Hochul said. Over 70,000 vaccine doses were administered over last 24 hours.

Busy travel season expected despite pandemic
The White House says 78% of adults have now gotten at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, and there is a push to boost vaccinations ahead of what’s expected to be a busy holiday travel season. United Airlines says it plans to fly 3,500 domestic flights in December every single day. That’s almost as many flights were in the air back in 2019. United adds flight searches are up 16% compared to before the pandemic. The CDC is also reminding Americans to get their flu shots, saying it will help reduce strain on already overwhelmed hospitals.

Vice President Kamala Harris visits New Jersey in COVID vaccination push
New Jersey got high-profile reinforcement Friday in its push to encourage more residents to get vaccinated against COVID. Vice President Kamala Harris is in New Jersey as the Tri-State area prepares for the impending expansion of the vaccine eligibility pool. She arrived at Newark Airport where she was greeted by Governor Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, and other officials. The vice president will be at a vaccination center at Essex County College Friday afternoon in the latest push to get people vaccinated.

Experts explain why lawsuits against COVID-19 vaccine mandates fail
From teachers to airlines workers, some employees who have faced termination for not complying with their company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates have gone to court to fight the decisions. Some of the plaintiffs, such as New York City Department of Education employees, a handful of Los Angeles county public employees and United Airlines workers, have argued that the mandates should be removed, questioning the rules’ constitutionality and some contending their religious rights weren’t observed. So far, these arguments have not swayed judges who have almost all ruled in favor of the employer, or not issued long injunctions while they hear the case. And legal experts tell ABC News they don’t expect different outcomes in courtrooms anytime soon.

What to know about religious exemptions for COVID shots as vaccine mandates roll out
With COVID-19 vaccine mandates proliferating across the country in the public and private sectors as well as some school districts, the pushback from those unwilling or hesitant to get their shots is heating up. The vaccination effort has raised new questions about exemptions because mandates for adults are generally rare outside of settings like healthcare facilities and the military, and the inoculations are relatively new.
While there is no overall data yet on exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, a number of companies and state governments have seen interest in religious exemptions — a protection stemming from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This leaves employers in the difficult and legally precarious position of determining whether the requests are valid. As such, some states have tried to do away with non-medical exemptions overall for their employees.

Hochul announces $125 million for landlord rent relief
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that $125 million in state funding is now available to help landlords who couldn’t participate in the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program due to a federal requirement for tenants to participate in the application process. Administered by the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and accepting applications starting Thursday, Oct. 7, the Landlord Rental Assistance Program provides up to 12 months of past-due rent to landlords who are ineligible for the federally funded program because their tenants either declined to complete an application or vacated the residence with arrears. Priority will be given to those landlords owning small-to-medium-sized properties.

“Getting pandemic relief money out the door to New Yorkers has been a top priority for my administration since day one,” Governor Hochul said. “I am proud that our state’s rental assistance program has already provided much needed relief to tens of thousands of New Yorkers, but there are still many small landlords ineligible for that relief because of federal rules who also need our help. This funding is a critical tool to close that gap and help more New Yorkers recover from the pandemic.”

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Traveling with kids during delta: 6 trip scenarios to consider

“With the current information we have about how contagious the delta variant is, it does not feel safe to enter any place that’s going to be crowded like that, for fear of what I might unknowingly pass along more than anything else,” Barton-Sabo said in an email. “I’m very relieved to be vaccinated and have that level of protection, but if the virus is circulating this wildly, we need to remove as many possibilities for spreading as we can. This is one bit I can do.”

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When COVID cancels the school holidays, is more independence the answer to keeping kids happy?

The text came out of the blue: “We’ve been giving James a bit more freedom,” my mum friend wrote. “He’s been heading to the park on his bike without us. He rides on the paths, climbs a tree, goes to the playground. He knows once he’s in the park, he has to stay in the park and we agree on when he must be home.” 

Like my son, James is 10, but I confess the text pulled me up short. Even though the park in question is barely 200 metres from my friend’s front door, and busy with families and children doing their best to socially distance, 10 is young these days to be heading off alone. And depending on what state you live in, it’s important to know it can also be illegal to leave a child under 12 unsupervised.

Yet with school holidays upon us, and options for juggling childcare and work-from-home limited in some states as COVID lockdown drags, on my social media feeds are full of versions of one fraught question: “I’m having a cold sweat thinking about the school holidays coming up. What ideas have you?”.

A close up of a girl's hands looking on a phone.
Limiting screen time during school holidays can be tough for parents to negotiate.(

Unsplash: Tim Mossholder


The fear of watching their kids’ childhood disappear behind a digital matrix, that not only sucks up their free time but now their school time as well, has left many parents with a sinking feeling. Surely screens can’t steal the holidays too? And as lockdown smashes up against modern “helicopter” parenting, parents are filled with nostalgia for the sense of freedom they grew up with a generation ago.

“Can we go retro and keep them outside until the street lights turn on?” joked one parent.

“The good old days,” was the conclusion from others. “Best times ever”.

My friend’s text and these social media exchanges got me thinking: is COVID forcing us to rethink entrenched parenting norms? Could encouraging kids to be a little more independent add a spark of adventure to lockdown’s Groundhog Days?

In short, could allowing our kids to take on more responsibility help them to be more resilient in lockdown, and take a load off parents too?

A little bit of independence

Rachael Sharman, a psychologist and academic who specialises in child and adolescent mental health, says research shows that when kids are allowed to be independent and make their own decisions most take the responsibility seriously. Rather than being dangerous, it often leads to a drop in injuries and rise in reasoned judgements.

“The research shows very clearly that if you give kids a little bit of independence most of them in fact did better than when adults were attempting to control them and helicopter parent them,” she says. “The kid feels responsible, they feel like the parents trust them and they take that trust seriously. They don’t want to squander it.”

A boy climbs a big tree with many branches and a girl sits on a branch in the distance
Research suggests that when kids get more independence they step up and act more responsibly.

The way we raise our children in the West is not necessarily the style of parenting you see elsewhere in the world. In Japan, for example, children are expected to take themselves to school and to the local shop for errands from as young as five, and special parks allow Japanese kids freedom to light fires and build things with hammers and nails with relatively little supervision.

In the West, the “helicopter parent” model is rarely challenged and when it is, all hell can break loose. Who can forget the criticism that faced Lenore Skenazy when she wrote about allowing her son to ride the New York subway alone at nine years old.

Skenazy’s experience ultimately gave rise to the Free Range Kids movement and notwithstanding the absolute requirement of every adult to ensure the safety of children in their care, helping children to build independence has strong links to confidence and self-esteem.

It can especially be an issue for tweens – too old to need or want to be constantly under their parents’ control and yet too young to be left completely to their own devices.

A bit of biology can help strike the right balance, says Sharman. Her tip is to try hacking brain chemicals to help kids feeling excited about their lockdown vacay.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released by the brain that creates feel good emotions when something goes well for us, says Sharman. That’s in part why online games are so addictive. Did you make it through level one and win 1000 bonus points? Bam – dopamine hit. You’re welcome.

But Sharman says anticipatory dopamine, released when we are looking forward to something, is even stronger than the dopamine we receive when we achieve it.

In the absence of a school routine, recreating a purpose to the day helps to create a sense of achievement and prevent the malaise that can come with endless unstructured hours. It is a healthier way to achieve that same hit of dopamine. One of the reason traditional holidays make us feel so good is that most of us structure our vacation days and wake each morning anticipating a fun activity ahead.

But the same principles can be used for a lockdown holiday. Planning activities to take place at certain times of the day helps generate anticipation and deliver dopamine alongside it.

Just anticipating the reward and having something to look forward too is more powerful than actually receiving it, Sharman says.

“If parents are looking to give their kids a dopamine hit then a really fun, pleasant surprise is the way to do it,” Sharman says. “Kids love a routine and if parents can tell their children before they go to bed at night ‘right, here’s something new we could do tomorrow’, that anticipatory dopamine will kick in and give them a bit of a lift.”

If the planned activities contain a sense of novelty then that kick is even more powerful which is why allowing your tweens a little extra independence or something a little naughty, within safe parameters (cricket in the hallway, perhaps? A pillow fight? Or a short solo trip to a nearby park?) can be deeply motivating and uplifting.

So as the school holidays get started in locked down NSW and Victoria and the rest of Australia, here are 10 ideas for creating a sense of adventure even when your holiday plans can’t go much further than your own backyard.

Backyard camping

Set up a tent in the backyard (or the balcony, or the living room, if you are in an apartment) and spend a few nights camping. The idea is to create a sense of novelty.

For outside campers, buy a fire pit: I’m yet to meet a tweenager who doesn’t get a kick out of building and lighting a fire (and a few adults too if we’re honest).

Keep it rustic. Spear some sausages onto a stick and cook them over the flame. Finish off with a few toasted marshmallows and then crowd together in the tent for a scary movie after the sun goes down.

a child's hand holds a stick with a marshmallow with black edges from being toasted on an open flame.
What about having a campting adventure in the backyard.(

Unsplash: Hanna Morris


Create a restaurant at home

Nominate a night or two a week when the kids do the cooking. Hand over responsibility for researching a menu (and keep your expectations moderate).

Get them to write a shopping list and then if COVID-safe to do so, hand over some cash and drop them to the supermarket or corner store to gather the ingredients.

Encourage them to present the meal with a dash of formal flourish, proper table settings, candles and music.

Explore your 5km

The limits on travel in Sydney where I live has forced us to re-imagine our neighbourhood, something Melbournians know all about.

But even if you are not locked down, visiting familiar, mundane places with the eyes of an explorer can bring them back to life.

While my family no longer has access to the beach, we are lucky to have other rivers and waterways where overlooked shorelines have now become valued spots to paddle and explore.

It’s surprisingly invigorating to discover that with a shift in perspective forgotten places close to home can become magical new destinations.

Kid launching mountain bike off jump
Look for magical new adventures close to home.(

ABC Tropical North: Melissa Maddison


Set up a social distanced street stall

Get your tween to sort out unused toys, books or clothes and set up a stall in the driveway to sell or give away their bits and pieces.

It’s a great way to encourage socially distanced interaction with the neighbours, teach the kids about the emotional and financial value of things and creates a great framework for a chat about wants, needs and equity.

Depending on how much plastic is in their giveaway stash, it’s a good time for a conversation about the environment, too.

Make public art

In a park close to us, a local child has created a fairy garden and put up a sign inviting others to add to it. Every day trinkets and miniature artworks appear building a sense of wonder and also community.

Another local paints rocks with inspirational messages and leaves them around our suburb. On the back is an Instagram address and when you discover a rock, the idea is to post a photo of where you found it and then hide it again for the next person to discover.


It’s no secret that many families are doing it tough. Get in touch with local charities or Pay It Forward groups on social media and get the kids involved.

Some charities are collecting toiletry packs for the homeless, or pre-loved football boots in good nick to send to disadvantaged communities. Collect cans and bottles for a 10c refund and donate the money.

Find out if any neighbours are living alone and feeling lonely: get the kids to bake them a cake or ask if they need some groceries picked up.

Activities like this are also valuable for shifting a child’s focus away from themselves and their own troubles and helping them zero in on what they have to feel grateful for.

Start a holiday business

Do any of the neighbours need dogs walked or gardens weeded?

Tweens are old enough to take on these jobs with a bit of guidance. Feeling useful builds their self-esteem, confidence and resilience.

Set an exercise goal

Keeping active lifts our spirits. Decide on a fitness goal, maybe running 5km, 50 sit ups or holding plank position for a few minutes.

Get the kids to train towards their goal every day. Organise a family relay or biathalon.

A child's legs and feet, wearing Converse hi-tops, walks along a concrete breakwall with the ocean in the distance
What about encouraging your child to set a school holiday fitness goal?(

Unsplash: PixPoetr


Money to spend in a $2 shop

Hand over an agreed amount that’s large enough to get some bang for your buck, but small enough to force the kids to feel their financial limitations and enact a bit of strategy.

Then let them loose in the local $2 shop or variety store. If you are in lockdown most of these remain open. These stores usually stock loads of art and craft materials, some snacks and toys.

More than enough to fill up a locked down afternoon.

Oh OK, binge

When all else fails, a day on screens may be just what the kids need this holiday.

Theme your viewing — maybe you can work through the entire Star Wars series or revisit Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, or the Dark Knight Trilogy. Maybe Groundhog Day or the movie Contagion should be on the list, too. Let’s face it, options are endless.

Make some popcorn, thrown down every cushion, pillow, doona and beanbag in the house and create a giant soft, comforting place to slob out. Dim the lights and forget about lockdown and COVID-19, for a while.

After all, that may be the greatest vacation of all.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

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Train Travel With Kids: Tips for a Smooth Journey From Parents and Travel Experts

It seemed like an exciting, novel way to kick off our family ski trip: taking the train from New Orleans to Denver via Chicago, before renting a car for the last leg to the resort. In reality, the journey went down in family lore for all the wrong reasons: trains packed with rowdy spring breakers, extensive delays, and a chilly night huddled in a frigid upstairs viewing car because it was the only place we could get seats together amidst the chaos and crowds.

About three decades later, the delights of train travel with my own family—my husband and our almost-five-year-old son—thankfully far outweigh the mishaps. We’re lucky to live in Europe, the holy grail of rail networks, and although train travel in the U.S. might not be as extensive, having the right gear and strategy helps make it as seamless as possible.

Along the way, I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for how well-suited rail travel can be for families—a view shared by parents like Karen Zimet, a Charlottesville, Virginia-based accountant and avid traveler who has explored many train routes with her husband and two daughters.

“You’re strapped into a seat with most other kinds of transportation, but on a train you have this extra freedom kids are always looking for,” Zimet says. “You can move around, go sit in the dining car, or just walk the length of the train. And it’s almost like a little voyeuristic view of parts of cities and towns you wouldn’t get to see otherwise, like walled-in backyards along the route, or spotting animals out the window. I think we once sang ‘Old McDonald’ for two hours because my youngest would see some animal and we’d sing about it.”

Not that every trip will be all cheerful sing-alongs, of course: Traveling with kids, no matter how you do it, is rarely stress-free. But armed with insider tips, tricks, and hacks from train aficionados like Zimet and other industry experts, you can make your family’s train adventure as much fun as the destination itself (i.e., no frostbitten fingers in the frozen viewing deck).

All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

First, do your research

Parents new to train travel with kids can often be overwhelmed by the idea. Where should they go? How long should the trip be? What kind of tickets should they book?

Katie Brown, an independent affiliate of Ciao Bambino, Inc., a boutique agency that specializes in family travel, recommends Google Maps as a helpful starting point. After choosing two (or more) destinations and selecting the train icon for directions, users can see in a few seconds which operators offer service, how many transfers are involved, and how long the trip is estimated to take, plus other key intel.

“That’s the easiest way to get a general overview,” Brown explains. “It will also give you the names of the train companies and the train stations, so you can look at that to plan things further.”

Dig into the operator’s schedules and deals

In destinations with extensive train networks, some providers offer specific perks for passengers with kids, including free or discounted tickets for younger children, but usually, reservations must be made in order to hold the seat, especially on popular routes. The difference between coach and business fare can be minimal, but many parents say they often prefer non-business class cars because of their more kid-friendly environments.

Private or sleeping rooms that include their own bathroom are also a popular option for families both domestically and abroad, especially as the pandemic lingers. In the U.S., Amtrak’s Family Bedroom, available on all of its overnight routes west of Chicago, is a great choice for up to two adults and two children, according to a company spokesperson.

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8 Top survival tips when travelling with small kids

Going on holiday with little ones sounds awesome on paper but is, in reality, extremely stressful for parents! All the same parenting duties simply continue but in a different location and are amplified due to erratic schedules and endless excitement.

No matter what anyone tells you, travelling is not always easy with kids, and some trips you may find are more trouble than they’re worth.

The good news is that there are a few ways parents can limit the stress. Here are our top survival tips:

Remember, it’s not about you – it’s about them

Our first tip, and perhaps the most important tip of all, is to keep in mind that long gone are the days when holidays were about you (sad but true). Once you realise this, you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more. Kids do not understand the concept of relaxation, nor do they care about white-sand beaches and exquisite food and wine.

Choose kiddie-friendly places

Forget fancy five-star resorts. Instead, choose kid-friendly hotels, attractions, and restaurants that have play areas and facilities for kids.

Lower your expectations (and then lower them even more)

Expect the worst, hope for the best. Many of us build up these grand illusions of our vacations, only to be disappointed when real life gets in the way. There will be delays, fights, and snags in your plans. Accept it and prepare, that’s all you can do. When you set your expectations low, everything else will seem like a bonus!

Plan travel times during sleep times

If you have a three-hour flight, try to plan it when your little ones usually nap. At first, the excitement will take over, but once they feel the vibration of the plane – it’s lights out. Once your kids are asleep, that’s when your vacation really starts! Go ahead and have that glass of wine or dive into your book because this peace will not last.

Ditch the sugar

Don’t give your kids any sweets, juice, chocolate, etc., during travel times. You might think this is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised.

The more you pack, the better

This mostly pertains to toys and entertainment. Young kids have the attention span of a goldfish. Any shiny thing in their line of sight will send them running. Take a whole suitcase of toys, extra batteries, chargers, and colouring books, really anything that fits. Don’t be the idiot who forgets to charge the iPad before you get on a plane too – like me. Download a lot of kid-friendly apps that don’t require the Internet in case your flight or car doesn’t have Wi-Fi.

Make an itinerary ahead of time

Create a schedule of events and stick to it. Kids are creatures of habit; they like to follow schedules and directions. Fill their days up with activities so at night they welcome sleep. More sleep for them, more peace for you. Trust us on this – a bored kid equals a disaster.

Bring along some helping hands 

If possible, bring guests on your trip. Parents, in-laws, friends, and nannies make for great babysitters when you need a break. As much money as you spend on these holidays, you deserve at least one kid-free dinner with your significant other.  

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FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for kids, opening doors for family travel

FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for kids, opening doors for family travel

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