Coronavirus

Senseless Restrictions on Outdoor Activities Undermine the Goal of Curbing COVID-19

By arbitrarily foreclosing relatively safe social and recreational options, politicians encourage defiance, resentment, and riskier substitutes.

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Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many questions about the virus that causes the disease, including the infection fatality rate, the significance of mutations, and the efficacy of lockdowns, remain controversial. But epidemiologists and public health specialists have reached a consensus on at least one point: The risk of virus transmission is much lower in outdoor settings than it is indoors, especially when the latter spaces are poorly ventilated, crowded, and occupied by people who are expelling a lot of respiratory droplets by talking, singing, coughing, or sneezing. Yet some state and local governments have responded to the ongoing surge in newly identified infections by imposing irrational restrictions on outdoor activities that are bound to test the patience of Americans as they try to "hang in there" until vaccines are widely available.

Under a two-week order that New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued this month, golf courses and state parks "must reduce in-person operations by 100%." The order also tells residents, "You really should not be leaving the house unless it's an emergency or for an essential need like food and water." Residents who do venture beyond their doorsteps "must wear a mask," indoors and out, regardless of how close they are to people from other households. The only exceptions are for people who are "drinking, eating, or under medical instruction." The rules explicitly say people must "wear face-coverings while exercising," even "outdoors."

New Mexico had previously recognized that people could engage in outdoor activities with minimal risk of catching or transmitting the coronavirus. It described in detail "safe practices for golf courses," for example. Given that the scientific evidence regarding virus transmission has not changed since those guidelines were issued, it is hard to see why closing off outdoor recreation opportunities is justified now. You might think preserving those opportunities is especially important at a time when private, indoor gatherings are being blamed (without much evidence) for driving a spike in new cases.

Last week, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz banned "social gatherings" that include people from different households. "This prohibition includes indoor and outdoor gatherings, planned and spontaneous gatherings, and public and private gatherings," he said. It applies to groups of any size, "even if social distancing can be maintained."

Even The New York Times, usually a big fan of COVID-19 restrictions, was taken aback. Walz "took the extraordinary step of banning people from different households from meeting indoors or outdoors, even though evidence has consistently shown the outdoors to be relatively safe," the paper reported.

"If people are going to meet up, doing so outdoors is probably the lowest-risk way to do it," Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious disease modeler at the University of Toronto, told the Times. "Telling people they can't spend time safely outdoors isn't a rational approach. People are going to recognize that and push back."

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo likewise has banned all inter-household social gatherings. Her order also includes a ban on "all amateur adult and youth sports," both "outdoors and indoors." Indoor dining in restaurants is still permitted, subject to restrictions.

Rhode Island's mask rule is a bit looser than New Mexico's: "Any time you are near people who don't live with you, wear a mask." Similarly, California and Washington say you don't have to wear a mask outdoors as long as you are at least six feet from people who don't live with you.

Chicago is advising all residents to "only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up food, or receiving deliveries." If they do dare to leave home, they "must always wear a face covering." Mayor Lori Lightfoot also has imposed a 10-person limit on outdoor gatherings, although that restriction does not apply to indoor businesses such as fitness clubs, retail stores, or movie theaters. Outdoor dining at restaurants is allowed as long as tables are spaced at least six feet from each other and no more than six people sit at each table.

Philadelphia has banned "recreational activities and sports for youth, community groups, and schools," although "parks, trails, playgrounds, and athletic fields will remain open for individual use." The city also continues to allow outdoor dining at restaurants, with tables limited to four people, all from the same household.

Los Angeles County plans to impose new restrictions that will close playgrounds and ban all outdoor gatherings that include people from different households. But the Los Angeles Times reports that "beaches, trails and parks would remain open, as would outdoor venues like golf courses, tennis courts, skate parks, and community gardens."

California's message about outdoor recreation is mixed. "It's okay to go outside to go for a walk, to exercise, and participate in healthy activities as long as you maintain a safe physical distance of 6 feet and gather only with members of your household," the state's official COVID-19 website says. "You can also participate in activities at outdoor playgrounds and recreational facilities that are allowed to open." But it adds that "parks may be closed to help slow the spread of the virus" and warns that "Californians should not travel significant distances for recreation," even if they want to visit one of the parks that remains open.

There are several problems with these restrictions on outdoor activities. First, many of them are inconsistent and scientifically dubious. Second, foreclosing opportunities for people to recreate or gather outside is apt to increase the risk of virus transmission indoors, especially in private settings where the authorities have no idea what is happening, even if they are notionally imposing limits there. Third, arbitrary COVID-19 edicts that make life more inconvenient and less enjoyable for no rational reason foster resentment and defiance, which make compliance with reasonable safeguards less likely. In their determination to seem like they are doing something to slow the spread of COVID-19, many politicians are actively undermining that goal.

NEXT: Will Obama Torture Apologists Make a Triumphant Return to Joe Biden’s White House?

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  1. I thought senseless restrictions were the goal.

    1. Tim Walz is like a messaging nazi here in Minnesota. It’s all about his OPTICS. He’s a Newsom/Cuomo Gubinatorial wanna-be…whatever they do, he follows.

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  2. Senseless Restrictions on Outdoor Activities Undermine the Goal of Curbing COVID-19

    Fixed.

    1. Inconsistent rules and directives are the whole point of these regimes, who learned at the feet of radical Boomer professors in college, and were apprenticed in left-wing think tanks after graduation. They keep the populace demoralized, confused, and in a state of low-grade anxiety that’s designed to direct anger towards those who appear to not be obeying these dictats, so that control is maintained.

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  3. As usual Reason does not raise any question about the 1st amendment and the right to peacefully assemble.

    Apparently just good and bad ways to violate that right

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  4. State by state, city by city, Team D is showing their true colors. Every response these Team D jokers make, we lose our rights. And if they do it once, these Team D jokers will have no compunction to do it again, for another ’emergency’.

    1. At this point, I find myself wishing the coof WAS as dangerous as they’re trying to make it out to be. If it meant these assholes got scraped off along with the people they’re forcing to suffer–physically, emotionally, mentally, and economically–under these arbitrary, unscientific, illogical regulations, it would almost be worth it.

      1. I wish these crap-sorry politicians would get the virus in its worst possible form and die! Every last one of them! Then we’d be rid of them and their tyrannical cruelty!

    2. State by state, city by city, Team D is showing their true colors.

      yeah, thode Team D players like DeWine and Hogan and Baker…

  5. Senseless Restrictions on Outdoor Activities Undermine the Goal of Curbing COVID-19

    That’s cute. You think these restrictions are about curbing COVID-19.

  6. One very good point, Third, arbitrary COVID-19 edicts that make life more inconvenient and less enjoyable for no rational reason foster resentment and defiance, which make compliance with reasonable safeguards less likely.”

    You bet. I say #resist. I think residents of these big cities should threaten to hold gigantic maskless protests unless the outdoor limitations are lifted. Can you imagine what the LA County would do if 2 million people showed up in downtown LA or Seattle or wherever? You can’t eat at a restaurant, even outside. Not one piece of actual science.

    This must be how the farm animals felt when Napoleon took charge. Stupid pig.

    1. Well the Dodger and Laker celebrations don’t count.

      Nor do the protests.

      Or the Biden celebrations.

      But other than that, NO GATHERING!

  7. The goal of the politicians was never to control COVID-19 it was to get people used to the idea of being controlled, doing what they are ordered to do, and snitching on any non compliant family, friends, and neighbors.

    1. Also, it was to help their donors.

      If the government had a stated ambition of killing off all small businesses and to protect larger ones, what would they have done remotely differently than they have been doing?

    2. Like forcing women to give birth, or banning gays from marrying. Control has been happening all along. You never cared til the bar closed.

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      2. Libertarians don’t believe the government should be involved in licensing marriages so you’re wrong on that one.

  8. Avoiding death is no life at all.

    1. This. I can’t stand these “stay safe” admonitions, as if that should be our only goal.

      1. When someone says “stay safe”, I say “have fun instead”.

        1. Another option is to tell them “Live free or die!”.

    2. It is not my own death or illness I wish to try and prevent.

      1. You’re welcome to quarantine yourself no one will stop you.

      2. “It is not my own death or illness I wish to try and prevent.”

        Oh, aren’t you just the most……..
        self-righteous twit.
        You admit in other threads (assuming you do have data) that it’s impossible to locate the transmitter, and yet here, you act as if you have some magical method of ‘saving’ others.

  9. Your Masters don’t care about curbing Covid-19, the goal is control. Global warming/climate change was always too nebulous to be a really effective control mechanism, but tell people Grandma will die unless they obey and that gets their attention. As Dr. Anthony Fauci says, “You’ll have to do as you are told.”

  10. I wonder if there is any similarity amongst these authoritarian, ant-science governors?

  11. There is ZERO evidence for what they’re doing. They’ve frayed the social and economic order.

    Think of it. People have no outlets to blow off steam. No sports for kids (stunts their development. But the pros get to play), no bars to go grab a drink, no gym to work out the stress.

    How can this not end up badly and manifest itself in so many bad outcomes? Who are these psychopaths making these decisions?

    Up here, the Auditor-General ripped a huge one into Ford’s fat ass in Ontario. None of his measures and the same goes for Quebec, are coherent.

    None of this is science and no rational and sane person would conclude it is.

    1. Yep – they are incoherent and arbitrary and make ZERO sense. Religious gatherings limited to 10 people – regardless of building capacity, “outdoor gatherings” (wtf?) can have no more than 10 people (because when you are outside and there are 11 people the virus suddenly becomes lethal?). Etc, etc. And the less said of The Dancing Queen (who is once again hiding in his rabbit hole at Rideau Cottage – funded by the taxpayers who can’t pay their mortages or rent) the better…

      1. And the Chief Justice of the SCOTUS has no issues with this.

        Fortunately, at least 5 other ones are a bit more suspect of them.

  12. “……encourage defiance, resentment, and riskier substitutes.”

    this is what it really boils down to. if nobody had ever forced anything or mandated anything or locked anything down….. that is to say if common sense had not been forced into becoming a political discussion…… i really think we would be in a better place. the crazy conspiracies, the absurd misrepresentations of reality, the deliberately risky behaviors…… all the people doing that attach a hate for those who used the government to violate our free will. i really think we would have a lot fewer people not wanting to be responsible if nobody had ever tried to force them to do it.

    1. And we wouldn’t’ve had the riots.

      1. “i don’t want to listen to common sense, so i am going to throw out a completely unrelated straw man.”

        rioting is always wrong. protesting is always free speech…… and, whether you agree with them or not….. most of them are at least wearing masks. (you know…. the kind of thing we are actually talking about.)

  13. So now “reduce in-person operations by 100%” is bureaucrateze for “go out of business by executive order”.

  14. These tyrants are going to keep pushing until people snap and openly rebel en masse. I think that’s what needs to happen. These scum need to be removed from office and replaced with someone who understands and respects our Constitution as it’s written without any post-modern re-interpretations. We need people with the ability to act based on facts; not hysterical fear and emotionalism.

  15. Hey Sullum…why no mention in weeks of your idol in pandemic approach, Sweden? In the summer you were all about how great things were there. Is it because their mortality rate is 10x worse than their neighbor, Norway?

    Well, seeing your above article, maybe it’s because they too are limiting public gatherings to 8 people. Guess they aren’t the cats meow anymore, eh?

    1. Hey Jackoff, feel free to cite the data that shows public gatherings are the primary source of cases over nursing homes and prisons.

      1. Happy Thanksgiving!

        Best,
        Jack

        1. Like I thought, you got nuthin’.

          1. Nothing but happy wishes for you, anyway!

            1. Fuck off and die, jackass
              Worst,
              Sevo

    2. “…Is it because their mortality rate is 10x worse than their neighbor, Norway?..”

      Hey, jackass! You keep repeating this bullshit and never seem to have any cites.
      Perhaps because you or one of your cowardly lefty shit buddies pulled that out of your ass.
      Fuck off and die.

    3. The mortality rate in Sweden is so much higher largely because 70 percent of COVID-19 related fatalities there have occurred in government-run elder homes because of poor medical care. Their elder homes are much larger than in those in Norway, allowing for a faster spread of the disease as well. Outside the government-run elder homes, the COVID-related death rate is much lower.

      I ran across a chart the other day that shows “excess deaths” in Sweden are lower than in the US and many other European countries.

  16. A fourth issue with restrictions on outdoor activities is that solar ultraviolet is a major source of vitamin D, and higher levels of that vitamin have been associated with resistance to disease, including covid-19. By compelling people to stay indoors out of the sun, the various governments may be increasing their susceptibility to the coronavirus and the gravity of their symptoms should they contract it.

  17. The standard response to these restrictions should be F*** You. The governors’ executive orders do not apply to average citizens – they are NOT laws passed by a congress and subject to judicial review, They work for us. They are our employees and NOT our rulers. If they arrest you, sue them for violating your Constitutional rights. We need massive civil disobedience to remind them that they work for us.

  18. State by state, city by city, Team D is showing their true colors.

    yeah, those Team D players like DeWine and Hogan and Baker…

  19. First of all, shutdowns are very effective. But at this time it’s pretty unreasonable for us to do that. Everyone is totally burned out on covid. But we can offset the amount of spread and deaths by just not going to crowded places, wear a mask and wash your hands as often as possible. The only problem is that so many people bitch and moan about just wearing a mask, let alone not going to crowded places and washing your hands.

    I’ve watched many videos of people freaking the fuck out just because they were told to wear a mask. Most of them screaming and yelling that they had a medical disability to wearing a mask. But yet they had no problem screaming their heads off without a mask on. Of you are to I’ll to wear a mask, then I’m pretty sure screaming like a nut would probably make them pass out. So as far as I’m concerned, those people are full of shit.

    Unfortunately, we have a president who doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself. He uses his followers to repeat his bullshit that staying safe is trampling on their freedoms. What an idiot. But the good news is he lost the election. Haaaaaahahahahaha. He got his ass kicked by an old man who should be home in his rocking chair. Instead he was out rocking Trump with powerful blows that brought Trump to his knees. Hahahaha.

    But enough about trashing Trump. The bottom line is, just stay safe for now. It’s not that hard and it doesn’t really impede on your rights one bit. The vaccine is coming soon, so just hang tight and wait. Granted, most of us won’t die from Covid, but some will. So help a brother or sister so they don’t get infected and die. Its really simple.

    1. But we can offset the amount of spread and deaths by just not going to crowded places, wear a mask and wash your hands as often as possible.

      “Crowded places” have never been, and never will be, a primary source of covid cases. They’ve been in prisons and nursing homes, with a good dose from college campuses thrown in since the start of the traditional flu season.

      Every time the claim is made that restaurants and bars are the leading cause of cases, the actual data, when it’s even made available, shows the opposite. Mostly, the claim is just made with no proof whatsoever.

    2. Also, your emotional manipulation at the end there was pathetic. You covidiots literally have no argument.

      1. But Chump, opps I mean Trump lost. HÀAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA.

        Oh, and by the way. Any place that is over crowded is not a place you want to be. Restaurants and bars are probably not a “leading cause” of spreading the virus. But they are a cause.

        1. Oh, by the way, places that are overcrowded have not been a main driver of cases, either. Since none of the places you are warning about are actually dangerous, people should be able to enjoy them.

          Especially when your side is going on vacations to see relatives, anyway.

        2. “But Chump, opps I mean Trump lost.”

          Why is it that lefty shits with TDS spend their entire lives making up nick-names which embarrass 1st-grade kids?
          Well, for starters, the kids are more intelligent that lefty shits with TDS.

    3. Yes, Master. Give me the lash! Thank you sir. May I have another?

    4. “But enough about trashing Trump. The bottom line is, just stay safe for now.”

      You can go hide under your bed forever. But I won’t join you. I hope to get the kungflu, visit your house, and infect the shit out of you.

    5. “…So help a brother or sister so they don’t get infected and die. Its really simple.”

      Fuck off, slaver.

    6. First of all, shutdowns are very effective.

      In the same way that most diets are effective…only temporarily. France has ‘liberally’ imposed strict lockdowns, and it’s the same with the UK and their tiers. How are they all doing over there now?

    7. Biden “… was out rocking (President) Trump with powerful blows that brought Trump to his knees”??

      LOL! Please tell me you’re not really stupid enough to believe that, and that you’re just trolling. You just can’t be that stupid.

  20. New Mexico has required masks outdoors, even when exercising, for months now. When it came time for New Mexico to shutdown, again, there wasn’t much left to shutdown so they had to ban golf, tennis, parks, limit Costco to 5% capacity, etc. Judging by the infection numbers, it hasn’t helped.

    1. Lujan Grisham is as useless a governor as she was a representative in the House.

      1. Yes! I don’t know why nobody has paid attention until now, especially since she’s a top contender for secretary of health and human services. How about the arbitrary rule that no business can have more than four employees test positive in a two week window without being forced to close for two weeks? This has resulted in the closure of many essential businesses, including grocery stores. Combine this with very low capacity limits and you end up with very long lines just to get inside a grocery store. And it’s the week of Thanksgiving.

        1. The sad part is that if she gets a cabinet seat, she’d just get replaced by someone worse.

      2. At least she nailed the traditional ‘Karen’ haircut.

    2. It’s not just Grisham, as awful as she is, that’s the problem in New Mexico. It’s the people—most of whom are all-in on her b.s. Many businesses are just fine doing Grisham’s dance of open one day, shut the next, if it means just one person’s life is saved!

      There has been some push back in the rural parts of the state, but not in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces.

  21. When the politicians follow their own silly rules, then I might. Until then, they can rot in Hades.

  22. Early on, the Chinese could not find any cases where COVID was spread out of doors, only inside. Air movement and diffusion don’t allow the transmission of a large enough viral load when you are outside

  23. New Mexico has required masks outdoors, even if exercising, for months now. When it got here time for New Mexico to shutdown, again, there wasn’t much left to shutdown so they had to ban golf, tennis, parks, restrict Costco to 5% capacity, etc. Judging by means of the contamination numbers, it hasn’t helped.
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  24. When the politicians comply with their own silly rules, then I might. Until then, they can rot in Hades.
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  25. Yes! I don’t understand why no person has paid attention until now, specifically since she’s a top contender for secretary of health and human services. How about the arbitrary rule that no commercial enterprise can have more than 4 personnel test high-quality in a two week window with out being forced to shut for two weeks? This has resulted within the closure of many vital businesses, which include grocery stores. Combine this with very low potential limits and you become with very lengthy lines just to get internal a grocery store. And it’s the week of Thanksgiving.
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  27. When in trouble or on doubt
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  29. “Outdoor Dining Ban Begins Wednesday Night for Restaurants in Most of LA County”
    https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/coronavirus/california-restaurant-los-angeles-county-outdoor-dining-coronavirus-covid-19/2470083/

    There is no intelligent comment regarding such restrictions, other than I will do my best to ignore them.

  30. In most cases it is impossible to track how the disease was transmitted so you will never get hard data on that. It is so widespread at this point that you simply cannot accurately track it down.

    You will also never get hard data on which measures are effective and to what extent for the same reasons. We do not even know how many cases there are because most with little or no symptoms never get tested.

    I was sick with most of the symptoms a few weeks ago. I waited 3 days to call the doctor. It took another 3 days to get the test and 3 more to get results which were negative. The testing system is simply overwhelmed.

    There is considerable lag in reporting of hospitalizations and deaths for the same reason.

    This is a very very bad and dangerous bug. 6.5 people died in my state alone every hour yesterday and likely more due to reporting lag.

    1. If the potheads in Colorado can figure out how to track these outbreaks, the other states should be, too. I looked at New Mexico’s system, and it is particularly insidious because it selectively reports only on certain areas. Nursing homes and prisons, where Colorado has most of their outbreaks, aren’t reported in New Mexico’s. These states are adjacent to one another, it shouldn’t be hard for these people to talk and see what’s worked.

      1. A most are “community acquired”. You just don’t know where they came from. Sure you can say if the person was in a facility but that is not really representative of the community.

        I had the flu or something as I talked about. I have no idea where or how I got it. This is transmitted the same way.

        I was reading a hospital director talking about getting short staffed because of the virus. Most of the cases were community acquired, not from work.

      2. It is hard to say with certainty what works. The virus plays by its own rules. Best you can do is use common sense rules. Keep distance, wash your hands, avoid risky situations. I know you hate the masks but I don’t mind them in public places.

        1. It’s not the masks, it’s the didactic insistence that people who aren’t wearing them are being super-spreaders.

  31. Add to Trump’s accomplishments: ACB bitch-slaps Cuomo

    “Major shift at Supreme Court on Covid-19 orders”
    […]
    “The emergency rulings, issued just before midnight, were the first significant indication of a rightward shift in the court since President Donald Trump’s newest appointee — Justice Amy Coney Barrett — last month filled the seat occupied by liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.
    In May and July, the Supreme Court narrowly rejected challenges to virus-related restrictions on churches in California and Nevada, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court’s Democratic appointees to stress that state and local governments required flexibility to deal with a dangerous and evolving pandemic….”
    https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/26/supreme-court-religion-covid-barrett-440808

    Yeah, according to Roberts, who needs that tired old document when you have tin-pot dictators like Cuomo and Newsom around?

    1. I don’t know what Coumo was thinking with all that. There are some things you just can’t do.

      I know something about the Jewish community. The particular groups he is upset about. These are certain hassidic communities who don’t really care what the government has to say. They are just going to do what they do. The government is not the authority they listen to.

      Then he upsets the Catholic Church. Are you nuts? In New York.

      Actually at this point prayer sounds like a good idea. Nothing else seems to be working.

    2. Heh “We’re on a mission from God”

    3. “It is perfectly constitutional to protect the religious from their own dangerous stupidity, and especially to protect the rest of us from it.”

      -Sotomayor

      “Nuh uh without dangerous religious stupidity, how would we have gotten here?”

      -Gorsuch

      1. Ya gotta like Gorsuch.

        He used to start his law school lectures with “what is the answer to the question of life the universe and everything?”

        Which of course is 42.

        1. Reminds me of a physics lecturer who would start by saying “Please don’t ask me anything about life, the universe, and everything.”

    4. “HAPPY THANKSGIVING!” Trump tweeted on Thursday in response to the decision.

      https://www.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN2860CK

  32. So while will the other facet of your mouth be documenting the truth that your fellow Conservatives who call the Democrats Socialists/Communists/Marxist are nothing but psychopaths/sociopathic liars?
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    1. Laura, could you translate your comment to English? By the way, just to let you know, this is a libertarian site. If you want to read what conservatives are thinking, go to National Review.

  33. BTW, she looks like one of the Muslim imams with that finger stuck up the the air.
    ‘Allah decrees….!’

    1. You should hear her talk.

      Nails, meet chalkboard.

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  37. L.A. County just instituted its most excellent, brilliant edict yet. Most “occupancy” rules are based on fire code maximum occupancy rates, so that’s how bureaucrats are used to thinking. Well, they just limited *outdoor* gyms to 50% of “capacity”. The outdoors doesn’t have capacity limits, so what the heck does that mean?!

    Stupid rules, fortunately, teach people that government is stupid.

    Now, if we can overcome the Gell-Mann effect to get people to apply what they’ve learned during the lockdowns to most of everything else the government does.

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