U.S. to outline Nov. 8 international travel reopening, vaccination rules


A U.S. flag is reflected on the floor as passengers make their way through Reagan National Airport in Washington, U.S., July 1, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) – The Biden administration plans to unveil on Monday its detailed rules requiring nearly all foreign air visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting Nov. 8, sources told Reuters.

The White House first disclosed on Sept. 20 it would remove restrictions in early November for fully vaccinated air travelers from 33 countries.

The extraordinary U.S. travel restrictions were first imposed in early 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19. The rules bar most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

The White House plans to outline the legal framework requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for most foreign air travelers replacing the current restrictions, as well as rules for exemptions from the requirements.

The Biden administration will also detail requirements airlines must follow to confirm foreign travelers have been vaccinated before boarding U.S.-bound flights.

The White House announced on Oct. 15 that the new vaccine rules would take effect on Nov. 8.

One concern among U.S. officials and airlines is making sure foreign travelers are aware of the new vaccine rules that will take effect in just two weeks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to issue new contact tracing rules requiring airlines to collect information from international air passengers. The White House said earlier airlines will provide the information “upon request to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens.”

The CDC said this month it would accept any vaccine authorized for use by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization and will accept mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines from travelers.

The new rules are expected to exempt minor children from the vaccine requirements, the sources said.

The Biden administration has also been discussing initially exempting citizens of a small number of countries with extremely low vaccination rates because of a lack of access to COVID-19 vaccines, the sources said, saying that would include enhanced testing requirements.

Foreign air travelers will need to provide vaccination documentation from an “official source” and airlines must confirm the last dose was at least two weeks earlier than the travel date.

International air travelers will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. The White House said in September unvaccinated Americans will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of departing.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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U.S. to Outline Nov. 8 International Travel Reopening, Vaccination Rules | World News


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration plans to unveil on Monday its detailed rules requiring nearly all foreign air visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting Nov. 8, sources told Reuters.

The White House first disclosed on Sept. 20 it would remove restrictions in early November for fully vaccinated air travelers from 33 countries.

The extraordinary U.S. travel restrictions were first imposed in early 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19. The rules bar most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

The White House plans to outline the legal framework requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for most foreign air travelers replacing the current restrictions, as well as rules for exemptions from the requirements.

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The Biden administration will also detail requirements airlines must follow to confirm foreign travelers have been vaccinated before boarding U.S.-bound flights.

The White House announced on Oct. 15 that the new vaccine rules would take effect on Nov. 8.

One concern among U.S. officials and airlines is making sure foreign travelers are aware of the new vaccine rules that will take effect in just two weeks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to issue new contact tracing rules requiring airlines to collect information from international air passengers. The White House said earlier airlines will provide the information “upon request to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens.”

The CDC said this month it would accept any vaccine authorized for use by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization and will accept mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines from travelers.

The new rules are expected to exempt minor children from the vaccine requirements, the sources said.

The Biden administration has also been discussing initially exempting citizens of a small number of countries with extremely low vaccination rates because of a lack of access to COVID-19 vaccines, the sources said, saying that would include enhanced testing requirements.

Foreign air travelers will need to provide vaccination documentation from an “official source” and airlines must confirm the last dose was at least two weeks earlier than the travel date.

International air travelers will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. The White House said in September unvaccinated Americans will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of departing.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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Standardization of Travel Rules Key for Latin America Airlines’ Recovery | Investing News


By Nelson Bocanegra and Carlos Vargas

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Getting standardized rules for international travelers amid the coronavirus pandemic is the biggest hurdle for Latin American airlines, with their recovery threatened by a lack of consensus among health authorities, industry leaders said on Sunday.

Passengers suffer constant delays and restrictions as they travel between countries due to differing entry requirements established to curb the spread of different strains of the coronavirus, aviation industry directors said at a conference in Bogota, Colombia.

“Standardization is vitally necessary to build confidence so people return to flying,” said the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association’s (ALTA) chief executive, Jose Ricardo Botelho.

The lack of accord between different countries, with frequent changes to air travel rules, leads to uncertainty for passengers, airlines, and airline staff, said Copa Airlines Chief Executive Officer Pedro Heilbron.

“When you carry passengers and there are thousands of requirements, it’s almost impossible that at least some passengers don’t have the right paperwork,” he told journalists in opening remarks at the ALTA annual conference.

Some countries even fine airlines for passengers’ non-compliance with the rules, Heilbron added, though did not say which ones.

Almost a year and a half of restricted travel has put airlines and airports across the globe under severe financial strain, necessitating a more complete re-opening of travel so that the industry can recover, saving millions of jobs.

“Generally speaking there are quite a few agreements and there is relative standardization, but the big differences come from health authorities,” said Lucas Rodriguez, the head Colombia’s civil aviation authority’s air transport office.

The need to meet new travel requirements has dented airlines’ balance sheets.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the industry’s main trade body, this month revised its estimate for airlines’ net losses this year to $51.8 billion, from a previous forecast of $47.7 billion.

IATA expects airlines to lose $11.6 billion in 2022 in revenue.

(Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Carlos Vargas; Writing by Oliver Griffin; editing by Diane Craft)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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COVID-19: Travel rules relaxed as cheaper lateral flow tests replace PCRs from today | Travel News


Coronavirus travel rules have been relaxed for those returning to England, allowing fully vaccinated holidaymakers to take cheaper lateral flow tests instead of PCRs.

The new rules came into force at 4am, just in time for the half-term holidays.

They mean people arriving in England from a non-red list country can use a lateral flow test instead of the more expensive PCR on or before day two.

However, the lateral flows must be purchased from a private provider – not those provided by NHS Test and Trace for everyday domestic use.

Everything you need to know as COVID travel rules change again

British Airways planes are seen at Heathrow Terminal 5 in London, Britain May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
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Travellers returning to England are able to use lateral flow tests from Sunday

It follows backlash from members of the travel industry, who suggested the costly PCR tests were putting people off flying to non-red list countries.

There are 24 private providers for people to book lateral flow tests from listed on the gov.uk coronavirus website, with prices ranging from £19 to £39.

According to the Department for Health, passengers need to send a photo of their test result to the private provider – travellers who fail to do so could be fined £1,000.

Anyone who tests positive will need to isolate and take a free PCR test from the NHS to confirm the result.

People travelling on to the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man in the 10 days after their arrival will need to follow the rules for testing and quarantine in those countries.

Lateral flow tests can be carried out at home
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Lateral flow tests must be bought from a private provider

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I’m delighted that from today eligible travellers to England, who’ve had the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine can benefit from a cheaper lateral flow test, providing faster results.

“This huge boost to the travel industry and the public will make it easier and cheaper for people to book holidays and travel abroad, and it is because of our incredible vaccine programme that this is possible.

“Anyone who tests positive must take a PCR test, which, if positive, may be genomically sequenced to check for variants and further help us fight this virus.”

Grant Shapps says requirements for lateral flow tests instead of PCRs should be in place for travellers by October half term
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Grant Shapps hailed the UK’s vaccine rollout

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added: “The change in rules for post-arrival tests will give passengers more options and faster results, just in time for many half-term holidays.

“It’s thanks to the success of our vaccination programme that we can make this switch, giving the industry and consumers a much-needed boost.”

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Testing and self-isolating if you are positive remain crucial steps to managing the pandemic and stopping the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

“It is also critical that those who have positive lateral flow tests when returning to England go on to get this checked through a NHS test and trace PCR. This way we can continue to monitor new variants and stay on top of the virus.”



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COVID-19: Travel rules have changed again – what are they now? | Travel News


Holidays have been made a fair bit cheaper just in time for half-term, with PCR tests scrapped for fully vaccinated passengers arriving in England.

It’s the latest change to the UK government’s travel rules, aimed at making trips easier and more accessible.

What’s the latest?

The latest change concerns testing and ties into recent tweaks to the traffic light system.

The old traffic light system of red, amber and green countries has been replaced with just a red list and a “rest of the world category”.

People who are fully vaccinated will not need to take a pre-departure test before they arrive back in England from anywhere in the “rest of the world” category.

From 24 October, the PCR test taken on the second day after arrival is replaced with a cheaper lateral flow.

Grant Shapps said of the changes: “With half-term and winter sun around the corner, we’re making it easier for families and loved ones to reunite, by significantly cutting the number of destinations on the red list, thanks in part to the increased vaccination efforts around the globe.”

The transport secretary added that they were designed to “restore people’s confidence” and “rebuild our economy”.

Experts say they are worried about the risk of variants infecting UK travellers in Europe this year
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Only seven countries remain on the red list

Which countries are on the red list?

As of 4am on Monday, 11 October, only seven countries remain on the red list. They are:

Panama

Colombia

Venezuela

Peru

Ecuador

Haiti

Dominican Republic

Testing

Residents who are fully vaccinated no longer need to take a pre-departure lateral flow test before they return to England from a non-red list country.

They will still need to take a lateral flow test, purchased from one of the private providers listed on the gov.uk website, on the second day they are back.

The government has confirmed people will be able to take pictures of their negative lateral flow results and booking reference to prove they have not contracted COVID.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid previously told Sky’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday: “The cost that generates for families, particularly families just trying to go out and holiday, you know we shouldn’t be keeping anything like that in place for a second longer than is absolutely necessary.”

Those who are unvaccinated still need to take a pre-departure test before travelling back to England, and still have to purchase a PCR for their day-two test.

A 10-day home quarantine is also still mandatory for people who are unvaccinated – regardless of where they have travelled from.

They can pay for a PCR test on day five if they want to end their quarantine early as part of the government’s Test to Release scheme.

Recognised vaccines

From 11 October, the government increased the number of countries whose vaccination programmes it recognises.

Fully-vaccinated arrivals from 37 new countries, including Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey, will be treated the same as double-jabbed Britons.

This means they will not have to quarantine or take a day five PCR test – just a test on day two.

What happens if you come back from a red list country?

Anyone returning from a red list country is still required to pay £2,285 to quarantine for 11 nights at a government-approved hotel.

What happens if a traveller tests positive when returning to the UK?

Anyone who tests positive needs to isolate and take a free confirmatory PCR test.

This would then be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

Will the new rules apply to the whole of the UK?

The travel changes only apply to England.

Wales has announced that it plans to make the same changes from 31 October, while Scotland and Northern Ireland have indicated that they could do so at a later date.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on 28 September that she would make the changes “with some reluctance”, but added: “We have also considered the practical consequences of not having an aligned position.

“In particular, we have to be realistic about the fact that people living in Scotland could decide to return here via airports based in England, if different rules are in place for Scottish airports.

“The result of this would be a disadvantage to our aviation and travel sector, but without any significant public health advantage.”

Are the rules the same for leaving the UK and returning from other countries?

The rules only apply to those flying back to the UK.

Towards the end of October, passengers who change flights or international trains during their journey will be able to follow the measures associated with the country they originally departed from, rather than the countries they have been through as part of their journey.

However, a date for this has not yet been confirmed.

Passengers should continue to check GOV.UK travel guidance to keep up to date with entry requirements into the UK here.



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Unvaccinated Americans will face stricter testing under Biden’s international travel rules – The Washington Post



Unvaccinated Americans will face stricter testing under Biden’s international travel rules  The Washington Post



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2 California visitors arrested on Maui for allegedly violating travel rules


Two California visitors were arrested Monday for allegedly violating the state’s travel rules, which require travelers to present a vaccination record, a negative pre-travel COVID-19 test or approved lodging for a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

California residents Steven Miller, 54, and Tina Wideman, 55, were arrested on suspicion of violating the travel rules upon arriving on Maui from Las Vegas, according to a news release. They were transported to the Wailuku police station for processing without incident, Maui police said.

Both volunteered to leave Maui and fly back to California.





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Safe Travels program should align with new federal travel rules, Hawaiian Airlines says


Hawaiian Airlines said it’s looking forward to the lifting of the ban on most international visitors to Hawaiʻi, but said the state’s Safe Travels program should be synchronized with federal rules to avoid creating confusion.

The Biden Administration decreed Friday that as of Nov. 8, vaccinated travelers from all nations will be allowed to enter the United States.

Hawaiian Airlines released a statement acknowledging international visitors as a vital part of Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry. But it also said requirements under Hawaiʻi’s existing Safe Travels program could create some confusion.

Currently, visitors from some countries such as Japan, Korea, Canada and the Philippines are allowed into Hawaiʻi if they have been tested by what the state calls Trusted Testing Partners.

Travelers from all other countries must undergo a 10-day quarantine.

But on Nov. 8, all travelers who have received an FDA-approved or World Health Organization-approved vaccine will be able to enter the country — as long as they receive a negative COVID-19 test within three days of their departure.

Gov. David Ige’s office said no changes have been decided yet.





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Planning some winter sun? Don’t book before reading this simple guide on all the rules | Travel News | Travel









Planning some winter sun? Don’t book before reading this simple guide on all the rules | Travel News | Travel – ToysMatrix


























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U.S. travel rules to hit some countries hard


MIAMI — New Biden administration travel restrictions aimed at preventing the unvaccinated from coming to the United States will be felt particularly hard in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region where wide disparities and lack of access to covid-19 vaccines have left most of the population without protection against the virus.

The new rules, which White House covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said will begin in early November, could also prohibit some vaccinated travelers from entering the country if they have received shots from vaccine makers that are not recognized by the World Health Organization.

The White House said last month that it was considering banning travelers who received covid-19 vaccines that have not gotten emergency authorization from the WHO. The U.S. has authorized only three vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — but the WHO’s emergency use list includes vaccines produced by AstraZeneca and China’s Sinopharm. But it currently does not include Russia’s Sputnik V or Cuba’s Soberana, which some countries in the region have used to augment their vaccine supplies.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency “is actively working with vaccine experts regarding which vaccinations will be accepted.”

The CDC will provide more information about the requirements in the coming weeks, she said.

Whatever decision U.S. authorities make would leave many Latin Americans and Caribbean nationals shut out of the United States at a time when visa approvals have already been backlogged over covid-19 and restrictive embassy staffing.

“It disproportionately affects the developing countries like Guyana,” said Oneidge Walrond, the South American nation’s minister of tourism and commerce, who fears that Sputnik will not make the U.S. approved list.

Believing vaccination was the only way out of the pandemic, Guyana this year turned to the Russian-made vaccine, purchasing 200,000 doses at $20 each after being unable to secure any of the U.S.-made vaccines. Even though it has joined a number of Caribbean countries in passing similar covid entry requirements for international visitors — one must show proof of vaccination and negative testing within 7 days of travel — the country believes it will now be punished by the U.S.’s new requirement after being unable to get other vaccines.

“We think it’s unfair and highlights and deepens the divide between the haves and have-nots,” Walrond said.

On Wednesday, the Pan American Health Organization’s director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, said only 37% of the 653 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been vaccinated, while countries like Nicaragua have yet to reach 10%. Haiti, which has administered only about 75,220 U.S-donated Moderna shots, has less than 1% of its population vaccinated.

CALLS FOR HELP

With many people lacking access to vaccines, the U.S. this summer began shipping 40 million doses to the region, mostly through the WHO global access platform known as Covax. But tensions over the availability of shots in one of the world’s hardest-hit regions have already flared even among partners like Colombia, which has already received 6 million doses donated by the U.S.

In his speech at the recent United Nations General Assembly, Colombian President Ivan Duque spoke of the “unprecedented” gaps in vaccination coverage, adding a veiled criticism of the U.S. booster-shot plan.

“While some nations acquire additional doses for six or seven times [the size of their] population and announce third booster doses, others have not applied a single dose that gives them hope,” he said.

Millions of people in the region have gotten vaccines produced by Russia, China, India and Cuba that have not received WHO emergency authorization. The rules will also spotlight regional inequities, as the poorest countries struggle to vaccinate their citizens amid low supply and vaccine hesitancy, and international efforts like Covax remain slow in delivering promised doses.

“We continue to urge countries with surplus doses to share these with countries in our region, where they can have a life-saving impact,” Etienne said. She said the Pan American Health Organization, which is the World Health Organization’s Americas regional office, was trying to accelerate vaccinations in the Americas, including purchasing vaccines and ramping up manufacturing in the region.

Though Covax was set up to help poor and middle-income countries secure vaccine doses at lower prices, the Pan American Health Organization’s assistant director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, said it will not meet the goal to provide enough vaccines to immunize 20% of the population of participating nations.

Cubans are in a particularly tough spot because the government declined to participate in Covax and developed its own vaccines instead. The government also has not taken the U.S. up on an offer to accept vaccine donations, two senior Biden administration officials said last week.

After a year and a half of government-imposed restrictions on foreign travel, many Cubans are looking forward to visiting family and friends abroad when airports open up in mid-November. They are likely to face a new hurdle to come to the U.S., however, as the vast majority of Cubans are receiving locally produced shots of Soberana and Abdala.

A minority of the population is getting the Chinese-manufactured Sinopharm vaccine that has WHO emergency approval. Cuban authorities said the island was leading the vaccination efforts in the region, with 80% of its 11.3 million population having received at least one dose. However, only 56% is fully immunized because Cuba’s vaccination program requires three doses with several weeks between the shots.

The U.S. rule can put additional hurdles on Cuba’s plans to export its vaccines. So far, the country has shipped vaccines to Venezuela and Nicaragua and signed a contract to sell 10 million doses to Vietnam.

The Finlay Institute, the Cuban state manufacturer of the Soberana vaccine, is already in contact with WHO to seek the agency’s approval. Dr. Vicente Verez Bencomo, the institute’s director, said the government was investing in bringing the production plant standards up to meet the requirements for export.

“We are supporting Cuba to participate in the prequalification process,” Barbosa said. “We already had a meeting with WHO and vaccine producers. Our interest is that all vaccines can participate in the WHO’s prequalification process, because that will expand the supply of vaccines that we can buy.”

In Cuba, the Dominican Republic and other countries in the region, people have had little choice of which vaccine to get.

In countries like Argentina, there has been a patchwork of options, but not all vaccines have been available simultaneously or in all areas. More than 10 million Argentinians vaccinated with Russian Sputnik V will not be able to come to the U.S. if manufacturers do not solve issues with the production plants that have halted the WHO’s approval process.

AIR-TRAVEL MANDATE WEIGHED

Amid a growing push for passengers on domestic flights to show proof of vaccination, top infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said he doesn’t see it happening in the near future.

His statement came Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, after anchor Dana Bash asked if he would like an air travel vaccine mandate in effect for the holidays. He said such a decision would be made with “input from a number of parts of the government.”

“On the table is the issue of mandates for vaccine,” said Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser. “It’s always discussable, we always wind up discussing it, but right now I don’t see that immediately.”

Late last month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced a bill that would make vaccination, a negative test or proof of recent recovery from the virus mandatory to fly domestically. Earlier in the month, Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., proposed legislation to require proof of vaccination or a negative test for domestic air and Amtrak travelers.

Fauci said last month that he would support a vaccine mandate for domestic flights if President Joe Biden wanted to move forward with one.

During Sunday’s interview, he declined to weigh in on whether he supported a mandate, saying he did not want his comments to be taken out of context.

“We have everything on the table, and it will be discussed by the medical group,” he said.

Thailand, meanwhile, plans to no longer require international visitors from at least 10 low-risk nations to quarantine beginning next month if they are fully vaccinated, the prime minister said Monday.

In a televised speech, Prayuth Chan-ocha said the first group would include arrivals from the United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, China and the United States. The list will be expanded Dec. 1 and again Jan. 1, he said.

Thailand’s economy has been badly hurt by the losses suffered by its tourism industry after most foreign visitors were barred in April last year. That policy has eased, but all arrivals still faced onerous quarantine requirements.

Even now, Bangkok and other areas have a 10 p.m.-to-4 a.m. curfew and other restrictions to tame a third wave of the coronavirus that began in April.

“The time has come for us to ready ourselves to face the coronavirus and live with it as with other endemic infections and diseases, much as we have learnt to live with other diseases with treatments and vaccinations,” Prayuth said.

He said he has instructed the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration and the Public Health Ministry to urgently consider the plan by the end of the week. The center will also finalize which countries will be on the no-quarantine list.

All visitors will still need to show negative covid test results before embarking for Thailand and will require another test on arrival, after which they will be free to travel around the country.

Visitors from other countries will still have to quarantine and meet other requirements.

Prayuth said the authorities will also consider allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages in restaurants as well as the operation of entertainment venues starting Dec. 1 to support the revitalization of the tourism and leisure sectors during New Year’s celebrations.

“We will have to track the situation very carefully, and see how to contain and live with that situation, because I do not think that the many millions who depend on the income generated by the travel, leisure and entertainment sector can possibly afford the devastating blow of a second lost New Year holiday period,” he said.

Information for this article was contributed by Nora Gamez Torres and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald; by Hannah Sampson of The Washington Post; and by Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul of The Associated Press.



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