Revealed: European Union’s Plan To Allow Vaccinated Travelers

Filed Under: Travel

About a week ago the president of the European Commission hinted that the European Union would open to vaccinated travelers. With today’s announcements, that’s one step closer to becoming a reality.

European Union’s plans to ease travel restrictions

While a couple of European Union countries (including Croatia and Greece) have already opened to visitors on a widespread basis, most of the European Union continues to remain closed, regardless of whether or not someone has been vaccinated.

That’s expected to change, as the European Commission has formally recommended that member states ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people, as well as those coming from countries with few coronavirus cases. We now have a sense of what this would look like.

European Union to allow vaccinated travelers

With this update, travelers from around the globe who are vaccinated would be allowed to enter the European Union for non-essential travel. As it’s described, this reflects the latest scientific advice showing that vaccination considerably helps break the transmission chain.

With this proposal, member states should allow fully vaccinated travelers to enter:

  • You’re considered fully vaccinated when it has been two weeks since your last recommended dose of the vaccine
  • The vaccine must have received marketing authorization in the European Union (which all vaccines in the United States have received)
  • If a member state waives the requirements for a negative PCR test and/or a quarantine for residents, then these should also be waived for vaccinated visitors
  • Member states should accept certificates from non-EU countries based on national law, taking into account the ability to verify authenticity, validity, and integrity of the certificate; eventually the EU plans to use a Digital Green Certificate system for this
  • Children who are not able to get vaccinated should be able to travel with their vaccinated parents if they have a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival in Europe

I’m sure parents will be happy to see that unvaccinated children are expected to be allowed in the European Union with testing.

European Union to allow unvaccinated travelers from more countries

Currently the European Union only allows unvaccinated visitors from seven other countries (like Australia and New Zealand), and that’s determined exclusively by countries having few coronavirus cases.

With this proposal, the European Union plans to expand this:

  • Non-essential travel should be allowed regardless of vaccination status if someone is coming from a country with a 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate of 100 or less
  • As a point of comparison, currently the restrictions are based on a notification rate of 25 or less, and for that matter the European Union has a case notification rate of 420

Based on current numbers, this would mean that all visitors from the United Kingdom would be allowed, while visitors from the United States wouldn’t be allowed. Again, this is exclusively for those who aren’t vaccinated, since vaccinated people from around the world would be allowed to visit the European Union.

This list would be reviewed every two weeks, so the countries that would be allowed could constantly change. The European Union would also have the ability to institute an “emergency brake” in situations where case rates significantly worsen in a country, especially if it’s due to a new variant.

What happens next?

As you can see, while the European Commission has made a formal recommendation, it’s now up to the European Council to consider this proposal:

  • The Council is expected to have a meeting on May 4 to discuss the technical aspects of the proposal, and then a discussion is expected to take place on May 5 at the meeting of the EU Ambassadors
  • Once the proposal is adopted by the Council, it will be up to member states to implement the measures set out in the recommendation
  • The Council would review the list of non-EU countries exempt from travel restrictions in light of updated criteria every two weeks

It looks like we could potentially see travel restrictions lifted pretty soon, though of course there could also be further road blocks.

Bottom line

The European Union is moving closer to welcoming vaccinated travelers from around the world (including children of vaccinated travelers, if they get tested). On top of that, the European Union plans to allow travelers from more countries who aren’t vaccinated, by increasing the maximum number of new cases allowed for a country to be considered “safe.”

Here’s to hoping that these changes become a reality sooner rather than later.

Comments
  1. So many unknowns.. No, I’m not against anything here, I;m glad something is happening. I just have so many questions.
    How long the protection from vaccination lasts, therefore, how long the vaccination passport is valid? .. How can I get a “vaccination passport” in the US that is valid to the EU? What happened to the HIPPA laws to protect US citizen’s health information in the US that the US worked for so many years and spent millions (billions?) and on and on…

  2. Endre-HIPAA (Not HIPPA) laws are designed to prohibit the provider from disclosing medical information without the consent of the patient. If you are willingly traveling for a non-emergent reason to a different country and the requirement is that you have to disclose your vaccination status, that has absolutely nothing to do with HIPAA. I’m so tired of that baseless uneducated argument I could puke. Also, educate yourself about the vaccines. First dose creates the antibodies. Second dose trains the immune system, particularly the memory B cells, that the protein will keep coming around so it stands ready for another attack. The only reason we don’t “know” how long it lasts is because we don’t have the data. Scientists won’t say “well the polio vaccine provides lifetime immunity so we guess this one will too,” instead they need empirical evidence. Here’s a secret. The vaccine is working and safe. And likely will last a very long time.

  3. I have a hard time believing that the CDC card-stock vaccination cards being issued in the US will fit the category of being able to “verify authenticity, validity, and integrity of the certificate”

    That being said, I also would be surprised to see the EU keep out US visitors in perpetuity so i guess we’ll see how it all plays out.

  4. Does this mean that I could travel to Greece from the Philippines- stay over for a few days and then continue on to any EU country?

  5. @endre good questions all. The privacy question is the easiest: Privacy is gone. Advocates of “proof of inoculation” will say that if you don’t want a foreign government learning your inoculation status, you don’t have to travel. One thing is not “unknown”: a fearful society, acting urgently, does not always solve problems with good solutions.

    Politician’s logic: something must be done, this is something, therefore we must do it.

  6. Non vaccinated traveller (not planning on it)

    I ignore almost all of the rules and regulations.
    A country requires more than a test? Skip it.

    The world is huge, there are almost 200 countries.

    “Ignore and Explore. ”

    That’s allowed 2020 and even 2021 to be the best travel years of my life.
    I’m shocked people are still scared.

    I guess Fear still sells better than anything else!

  7. I’m a Brit and was anti Brexit, pro EU, etc prior to all of this.

    And now I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I couldn’t be happier that we Brexited. Being able to pursue our own vaccine programme without all the red tape, meetings, commissions and councils enabled us to actually get stuff done instead of getting stuck in an EU log jam.

    Elon Musk was talking recently about trying to get green tech approved in Europe… but the EU commission needed a meeting about it… and the meeting wasn’t until next year. Unbelievable!

    Europe really deserves better than this outdated, inefficient structure. Especially in times like these. I can’t see the EU lasting much longer after this.

  8. @ endre — individuals voluntarily sharing their personal health information isn’t a HIPAA violation.

  9. Ben,
    Any further info on when the US will lift the ban on non-citizens flying to the US? I live here on a work visa and would love to go to Europe this Summer but right now I could not come back!
    Thanks

  10. @endre – HIPAA doesn’t prevent a person from voluntarily disclosing his own information. It’s up to you if you want to travel to Europe.

    @Ryan (not myself lol) – This is no different from the Yellow Fever card required to enter some countries that has been in existence for decades. It’s just a yellow card stock with the vaccine info entered by hand (that card stock can even be legally purchased by anyone). Already Greece, Croatia, Iceland have no issues accepting the CDC card – I can’t imagine anyone else will balk at it.

  11. Click … click… click… BAIT! These don’t sound like … plans revealed. That’s a bit of a dramatic title.

  12. @endre and @DenB Re: “what happened to HIPA laws:” US laws only apply in the US. This post is about EU policy. Furthermore, the US has long required vaccination against various diseases for visitors from specific countries, and many other countries do the same. A few years ago I had to get a yellow fever vaccine to enter Bolivia. When I was a college student I had to get TDAP and some other vaccines to attend school. None of this is new or unusual.

  13. To @George. All I can say is PLEEEEASE tell us you’re merely joking! If you’re actually lucky enough to have not caught the virus (yet!), which gives you an enhanced chance to become a new carrier (including asymptomatically), then we beg of you to not be sitting next to one of us when our rights of travel will return! I’m fortunate to be double-vaccinated, but even the safest of us can still contract the virus in our naso-pharyngeal zone; and even if not becoming internally infected, we can then fully pass the incubating viral strain on to others – including our own loved ones. Many of us have lost dear friends (4 globally), some of whom were Nono-believers like you seem to still be. So please don’t be a di**head, and risk ruining someone’s life – even besides risking your own. Anyone with me on this??

  14. @George – Once the vaccines are widely available/used across the world – Unvaccinated people are going to see a growing number of countries close off to them. Asia, Europe, & Africa are pretty much going to be non-go to un-vaccinated travelers. Oh, and the few countries that don’t require it are going to inundated with anti-vaxxers and will pretty much be the Caribbean, Latin America, and few South American countries – at least for a while. If people like travelling in the low 2nd & 3rd-world, then it will be a boon to them.

    Eventually the issue will be if the country can afford to pay for/take the economic hit for an outbreak vs the tourist revenue. This is all an actuary numbers game, once vaccines are widely distributed the economics/risk profile of allowing an outbreak is net negative, countries will close up tighter than a drum to unvaccinated travelers.

  15. I agree with Oftheworld. If you want to go somewhere, just get vaccinated and show proof of it. Very easy! Don’t want to go? Don’t go!

    I am very happy that travel is returning to normal.

  16. It’s nice they thought of kids, but I’m not about to subject my 4 and 1 year olds to covid testing twice—once to go to Europe and once to go back to the US—just to visit other countries.

    Not to mention the general concern of being over there if there is a surge and the country goes on lockdown again. As a vaccinated traveler, the surge wouldn’t concern me as much; it’s more the feeling that I wasted my money and time to fly someplace where I am not allowed to leave my room.

  17. Some of the comments about HIPPA, freedoms, vaccines, and such just demonstrate how easily lies and disinformation spread and take hold. And quite frankly, you have to want to believe that mess for you to even allow yourself to believe it. Everyone knows better, even the people posting that nonsense knows that certain vaccines are required already for certain things and anyone who thinks US law follows us to other countries (as in, HIPPA) doesn’t know a thing about how things work in the real world. Anyone who doesn’t know what HIPPA is, well please look it up.

    Your personal freedom to do whatever in the world you please, does not come before the rights of every other person or even of a government making laws or regulations that you don’t like. Some people have a really high opinion of themselves and their importance, I suppose.

    I am vaccinated and ready to travel. I know the facts about the vaccine because I read facts, not disinformation – on either side. The vaccine was supposed to be our way out – get vaccinated, they said – now people want to act like vaccinated people shouldn’t get out and do things. There is some risk to everything. This is all of the protection we will have and the numbers show the vaccine works. Come on people!

  18. The US federal government really should make a vaccine passport system ASAP. Not only EU but also many countries around the world will allow vaccinated travelers with electronic verification only.
    It’s the same in South Korea. South Korean government has announced that it’ll allow international travelers without mandatory quarantine if only they present “valid certificates,” which will be the so-called vaccine passport. Vaccine passport is the new normal for international travel everywhere.

  19. “Based on current numbers, this would mean that all visitors from the United Kingdom would be allowed”

    Except that in Brexit world, the EU is adding that they expect reciprocity. It’s not clear what that means, but it doesn’t seem to me likely that the EU opening up to the UK (with a case load of 400/100,000).

    There’s reciprocity and then there’s madness.

    Equally, swivel-eyed free marketeers in the UK‘s ruling Tory party seem to be against a vaccination passport on some bizarre libertarian principle or other (where were they when I was required to get a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate?!). So UK citizens may not end up with an internationally-recognised vaccine passport. It’s too early to say.

  20. *sorry. A bit of a sentence got chopped. Should have read:

    … but it doesn’t seem to me likely that the EU opening up to the UK (with a case load of 400/100,000).

  21. Damnit! I’m clearly inadvertently using some html code which means the middle bit of that sentence gets automatically cut. Apologies. But it’s not interesting enough to write it out again…

  22. @The nice Paul, Grant Shapps the UK Transport Secretary last week confirmed the NHS App is being repurposed to facilitate both proof of full vaccination confirmation and CV19 test results.

    All this information coming out of the EU is being interpreted by individual nations as “Technical Guidance” on a coherent road map to unlock the bloc, there is no joined up thinking and member states will end up doing there own thing which will makes things very confusing but I am confident some kind of tourism will happen albeit with independent travel corridors with reciprocal arrangements in place.

  23. Since anti-vaxxers are going to keep the US from achieving herd immunity I guess they won’t be going to Europe anytime soon. I’m perfectly ok with that.

  24. @Ryan – “I have a hard time believing that the CDC card-stock vaccination cards being issued in the US will fit the category of being able to “verify authenticity, validity, and integrity of the certificate”

    The EU won’t have any realistic option but to accept the CDC cards – that’s all most US travelers are going to have. The White House has already ruled out federal vaccine passports. There’s no way the EU is going to be able to access the databases for 50 states plus thousands of cities/counties. Most of these states/localities won’t be willing to allow any other government to access their info, and even if they were, interfacing with that many systems would be a logistical/technical nightmare.

  25. I can only think of one solution for our current vaccine cards being accepted around the world. Set up a severe enough punishment for using or falsifying information on your vaccine card. If there is a risk of being tracked down and put in say a Thai prison during your vacation it may make people think twice about trying it.

  26. Thanks to the anti-vaxxers, the US wont reach the caseload required for a long long time, if ever.

    Cancel all those tickets to Croatia and Greece, enjoy Mexico – the only place desperate enough to let us in!

  27. @Bob – the EU will let US visitors in, if we are vaccinated.

    I have no sympathy for anti-vaxxers.

  28. I can easily access my complete vaccine records, to include COVID, on my iPhone from the immunization record from my health care provider account if anyone wants to question my CDC vaccine card. For years, I carried yellow stock paper vaccination records while serving in the Army all over the world. No one ever questioned those.

    There should, however, be a vaccine passport. The vaccine reluctant need to be incentivized and the responsible need to be released from this COVID prison we’ve all been in for the past year.

  29. @The Original Donna, I agree. I do think the government, if it is not going to create a vaccine passport itself, should establish some kind of certification and standards for private providers, because the key for people who want to travel, and countries that want to welcome them in, is the need for a vaccination record that they know can be authenticated and trusted.

    Ditto what everyone else said about HIPAA. It does not apply to anything relating to foreign governments, does not even apply to employers or others mandating vaccinations. The US government has absolutely no responsibility to ensure that its unvaccinated citizens (or citizens who do not want to verify vaccination) can visit a country that requires it.

  30. This is good news, the only thing we need to watch out for when traveling to Europe is if they have localized case spikes and they have to lock down again, wasting the vacation.
    Not in a hurry to book though, they can change their mind 180 degrees by June.

  31. I don’t have a problem with showing a vaccine card in order to travel to other countries. Message to all anti-vaxxers, the 1900s called, they want your extended life span back.

  32. Dave says:
    May 3, 2021 at 9:28 am

    I’m a Brit and was anti Brexit, pro EU, etc prior to all of this.

    And now I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I couldn’t be happier that we Brexited. Being able to pursue our own vaccine programme without all the red tape, meetings, commissions and councils enabled us to actually get stuff done instead of getting stuck in an EU log jam.

    TOTALLY WRONG

    Even if the UK was still part of the EU (which it still efectivly was for all of last year) we could have still gone on our own with regard to approcing vaccinations etc etc

  33. I’m with most of the commenters here. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (aka HIPAA) has nothing to do with this. I hope that vaccine passports encourage people to get the vaccine. But I also think there is a fairly large number of people who are vaccine hesitant who also do not travel abroad much, so I am not sure how much of an incentive it will be.

    Side gripe–if the EU realizes that vaccinated travelers are unlikely to spread the virus, and we don’t need a negative test to get in, then the US should do the same for returning, vaccinated citizens. Also Hawaii.

  34. The vehement disdain for people who might hesitate to take a vaccine that is on a completely new platform is galling. Anyone who claims to know the long-term effects/safety of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines is lying. I wonder whether these same people have disdain for the folx who overeat and become obese. Obesity, after all, is the main comorbidity for COVID-19 deaths. We’ve known this for a year now and people still choose to be fat. Why should healthy people pay the price for fat people’s unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight? Obesity is also (socially) contagious. Why not require fat people to lose weight to be allowed to interact in public? To enter a restaurant? Close to 3 million people die of obesity-related illness every year. About half that number die from tuberculosis annually. Where are the cries for anti-TB lockdowns?

  35. I hope the EU approves the Russian vaccine quickly but I’m not holding my breath. Hungary is already using it on a large scale and there are many other countries in the world that have also begun using it. Over 60 countries have approved it including Mexico. It will be a real shame if countries start playing political games with the vaccines. It is even possible that the US might not include the AstraZeneca vaccine if they begin to permit vaccinated travelers to enter without a PCR test.

  36. I hope the EU approves the Russian vaccine quickly but I’m not holding my breath. Hungary is already using it on a large scale and there are many other countries in the world that have also begun using it. Over 60 countries have approved it including Mexico. It will be a real shame if countries start playing political games with the vaccines. It is even possible that the US might not include the AstraZeneca vaccine if they begin to permit vaccinated travelers to enter without a PCR test.

  37. Ben,
    The infection rates per 100,000 people have to be below 100 according to the proposal. Or else the brake gets applied.
    At present the countries in that region fitting that criteria are Finland, Iceland and Portugal.
    Cyprus and a few others have higher infection rates per 100,000 people than India. https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/cases-2019-ncov-eueea

  38. Ben, at present only Finland, Iceland and Portugal have infection rates below the 100 per 100000 level required in the proposal. Malta is slightly over the 100. Many of the big European countries are around the 300 level, and Cyprus is above 1200. So the brake would be applied immediately, rather than travel opening. Some European countries have a higher infection rate than India. I’m using figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

  39. @cargocult — Obesity isn’t contagious (not sure what “socially contagious” means), and can’t be passed between unsuspecting people in congregate settings like COVID-19 can. I’m a healthy individual, but it hit me like a truck and I’m still suffering from relatively minor (yet persistent and annoying) symptoms.

    If you don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s a choice I disagree with but ultimately respect as your own. But it’s a choice, just like private corporations have the choice to exclude you from their property/gatherings/events. The freedom knife cuts both ways.

  40. @Taylor
    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Private corporations can exclude you for a many reasons but none of them can include race, sexual orientation and in most cases handicaps.
    I remember during the HIV scare that at one time the US government excluded those with HIV from immigrating but after political pressure that was stopped. Those with tuberculosis on the other hand continue to be excluded until they have completed drug therapy.

  41. @Taylor – he is likely a self hating incel as he bizarrely rants and raves against obesity nonstop across the travel blogs…you do the math.

  42. @cargocult – mRNA vaccines have been in the making for nearly 30 years now. Rather than spout of righteous indignation resulting from your choice not to educate yourself, take the time to read up on the science behind these amazing medical breakthroughs. Spreading disinformation and ignorance does help turn this pandemic around – science does. Science would also tell you that obesity isn’t contagious!

  43. @cargocult, I never heard of someone getting fat and potentially dying two weeks later just by walking in crowded area.
    It is a contagion and if your not willing to do your part to stop the spread, go sit in the corner with your fellow anti-vaxxers and breath each other’s hot air.

  44. ChrisC

    Before you can expect your comment to be understood and replied to, meet us half way and make it legible by fixing the spelling and atrocious grammar.

  45. @Lucky… Poland has been allowing vaccinated travelers (except from the U.S.) since the beginning of the year. I entered on a Canadian passport and a U.S. vaccination without any problems. I showed my electronic record from the hospital that administered my vaccination while my wife showed her paper CDC card. I expected a grilling, but was admitted into the country within 30 seconds and no other barriers to entry.

  46. @Lucky

    Why are my comments with links to reputable studies censored while those of UA-TDS containing nothing but ad hominem attacks on me allowed to stand?

  47. I think it is quite revealing about Lucky’s politics and views on the free exchange of ideas (or suppression thereof) that he allows persistent ad hominem attacks on me by the likes of UA-TDS to remain in the comments but he does not approve the posts I make with numerous references to scientific studies regarding obesity and COVID-19. I’ll try posting again and see if it makes it through the censors.

  48. @Taylor et al.

    On obesity as a social contagion.

    www_nytimes_com/2007/07/25/health/25cnd-fat_html
    www_newscientist_com/article/dn12343-is-obesity-contagious/
    www_sciencemag_org/news/2017/02/should-we-treat-obesity-contagious-disease
    jamanetwork_com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2668504

    Obesity exacerbates the body’s inflammatory response to COVID-19. Public health officials, of course, are loath to fat shame or “victim” blame, though it is the obese victimizing themselves by overeating and then forcing the rest of us to deal with the consequences of their increased vulnerability. We are hectored endlessly about masking and social distancing (which don’t offer much protection) but hardly hear about maintaining a healthy body (which seemingly does).

    www_bmj_com/content/372/bmj_n623

    I think private associations and businesses should be able to discriminate as they please. Of course, this is not fully permitted by the state.

    I’ve replaced the periods in the above URLs with underscores to avoid being caught in the moderation filter/censorship machine.

  49. @Ralph4878

    MRNA vaccines, like SARS-CoV-2, are novel. No matter how long the technology leading to their creation has been in development, the fact remains that these are the very first human vaccines on this platform. Perhaps you should shed some of your righteous indignation about knowing better than others how they should be subjecting themselves to novel medical treatments. The immune system is terribly complex and it is the height of arrogance for you and others to think that you know what the outcomes of a mass vaccination campaign during a pandemic will be. Perhaps you also think governments worldwide should be forcing massive socio-economic engineering to combat anthropogenic climate change. “Because science.” Those who dismiss out of hand concerns about the novel vaccines don’t understand how science works. See the links above regarding social contagion of obesity. Is Harvard alefty/progressive enough a source for you? I am looking forward to the approval of Cogadenix’s live attenuated vaccine, . Are you even aware of the different types of vaccines and why a live attenuated one might be preferable over the mRNA ones, even setting aside the issue of novelty?

    @Jay

    I have heard of someone being fat and dying of COVID-19. Numerous times, in fact. The COVID-19 death rate is 10 times higher in countries in which over half the adults are fat than in those where fewer than half are. Why do you think that is? White supremacy?

  50. @cargocult – links don’t go through automatically you numbskull.

    Maybe stick to your new favorite pasttime, defending white nationalists and using pejorative terms towards POC.

  51. @cargocult “The COVID-19 death rate is 10 times higher in countries in which over half the adults are fat than in those where fewer than half are. ”

    Which is why India one of the least obese countries in the world has hardly been affected by Covid?
    /s

  52. @Jim Lovejoy

    India has about 162 COVID-19 deaths per million. That ranks it around 80-something in the world. Compare that to Western European countries with vaunted socialized medical systems like Italy (2,014 per million) and the United Kingdom (1,904 per million). Perhaps you make the mistake of taking notional amounts rather than proportional ones. Sensationalist media love to use that ploy to scare the innumerate among us. India has a lot of people, so it is not surprising that an uptick from a small per capita base would result in ostensibly large numbers. The game is also used to scare younger folx into thinking they could drop dead at any moment from COVID-19. Please look at the age-stratified death tables from the CDC and see why this is horrible misapprehension.

  53. @Jim Lovejoy

    Most Indians are indeed not obese. And yet, in the state of Delhi, the overweight and obesity rate is nearing 50 percent. A simple interweb search would have lurned you this. From the Wikipedia article on “Obesity in India”:

    Obesity in India has reached epidemic proportions in the 21st century, with morbid obesity affecting 5% of the country’s population. India is following a trend of other developing countries that are steadily becoming more obese. Unhealthy, processed food has become much more accessible following India’s continued integration in global food markets. This, combined with rising middle class incomes, is increasing the average caloric intake per individual among middle class and high income households.

  54. @cargocult
    Numbers as reported by one particular country can rarely be compared to another country
    One excellent example is Mexico – nearly 10% of those who have been reported as having covid have died. Those of us living here understand the numbers of cases are severely under reported because most people with minor symptoms just stay at home. If the same ratio were applied to the US there would over 3 million deaths. Personally I seek out information on hospitalizations. In January the covid beds were 85 to 90 percent full. We traveled to southern mexico where rates were less than 20 percent. Those same places in northern mexico are now at 13% and many testing centers have closed.

  55. @Alan

    I have no doubt that numbers in India are underreported. They lack the infrastructure to properly handle the pandemic. As for Mexico, my understanding is that it was a conscious policy to underreport. That being said, I found mask compliance to be quite high when I was there recently. I have no problem going to any supposed hot spots so long as I am not forced to stay in indoor congregate settings (like the lines at the borders in MEX and LHR).

  56. I wonder what’s it going to be like for people like me (a Mexican national) who were vaccinated in the US.

  57. @George: I am starting a gofundme page to send you to India. Have a great 2021 travel year.

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