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Archived COVID-19 Communications

5 Jul 2021


ARCHIVED COMMUNICATIONS

Here we will display the older communications regarding COVID-19. For the most recent updates click here.

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August 23 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

Following the release of the Activities-Associated Direction (No 10) that came into effect on Saturday 21 August the current level of restrictions impacting churches are as follows:

Singing

Attendees at indoor religious services may sing during worship and members of choirs or chorus groups may perform or rehearse indoors, if they wear masks while doing so.

(To ensure masks remain effective and protect you, you should change your mask as soon as it becomes damp and also after you have finished singing. Make sure you bring spare masks, a bag to keep used masks in, and hand sanitiser to use before and after putting on or taking off a mask).

The following exemptions from mask wearing during singing apply if:

  • the singer is performing individually (not including a karaoke performer); or
  • the singers are members of a group of performers and they are performing or rehearsing in the indoor premises (not including karaoke performers or persons performing or rehearsing as part of a choir or chorus); or
  • the premises are an educational establishment; or
  • the singers are undertaking or providing an individual lesson

Density requirements and additional directions:

  • Density requirement for seated activities is now 3 per 4 square metres. This applies to churches services
  • Density requirement for standing activities remains at 1 per 2 square metres
  • Gyms and indoor fitness activities remains at 1 per 4 square metres
  • Private gatherings in homes remain limited to 20 people
  • Weddings, funerals and birthdays are capped at 50 people (at non-residential premises)
  • Wearing of masks remains mandatory in high risk settings, personal care and health care services, passenger and public transport, secondary schools, and indoor public places – this includes churches

Churches are advised to continue to follow their updated COVID Safe Plan that they will receive from the government.

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August 12 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

Following the release of the Activities-Associated Direction (No 8) that came into effect on Thursday 12 August the main changes impacting churches are as follows:

Singing

Attendees at indoor religious services may sing during worship and members of choirs or chorus groups may perform or rehearse indoors, if they wear masks while doing so.

(To ensure masks remain effective and protect you, you should change your mask as soon as it becomes damp and also after you have finished singing. Make sure you bring spare masks, a bag to keep used masks in, and hand sanitiser to use before and after putting on or taking off a mask).

The following exemptions from mask wearing during singing apply if:

  • the singer is performing individually (not including a karaoke performer); or
  • the singers are members of a group of performers and they are performing or rehearsing in the indoor premises (not including karaoke performers or persons performing or rehearsing as part of a choir or chorus); or
  • the premises are an educational establishment; or
  • the singers are undertaking or providing an individual lesson

Density requirements and additional directions:

  • Density requirement for seated activities is now 3 per 4 square metres. This applies to churches services
  • Density requirement for standing activities remains at 1 per 2 square metres
  • Gyms and indoor fitness activities remains at 1 per 4 square metres
  • Private gatherings in homes remain limited to 10 people
  • Weddings, funerals and birthdays are capped at 50 people (at non-residential premises)
  • Wearing of masks remains mandatory in high risk settings, personal care and health care services, passenger and public transport, secondary schools, and indoor public places – this includes churches

Churches are advised to continue to follow their updated COVID Safe Plan that they will receive from the government.

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August 10 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

On the weekend, SA Health provided an update to the restrictions on singing in places of worship.  The update says:

If singing is essential to your practice of worship or faith based service, this is permitted, but masks must be worn at all times. To ensure masks remain effective and protect you, you should change your mask as soon as it becomes damp and also after you have finished singing. Make sure you bring spare masks, a bag to keep used masks in, and hand sanitiser to use before and after putting on or taking off a mask.

This morning, the Premier announced the easing of restrictions to come into effect on Thursday 12 August as follows:

  • Density requirement for seated activities is now 3 per 4 square metres. This applies to churches services
  • Density requirement for standing activities remains at 1 per 2 square metres
  • Gyms and indoor fitness activities remains at 1 per 4 square metres
  • Private gatherings in homes remain limited to 10 people
  • Weddings, funerals and birthdays are capped at 50 people (at non-residential premises)
  • Wearing of masks remains mandatory in high risk settings, personal care and health care services, passenger and public transport, secondary schools, and indoor public places – this includes churches

Churches are advised to follow their updated Covid Safe Plan that they will receive from the government before Thursday.

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August 4 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

Earlier this week, the Premier announced that from 12:01am Thursday, 5th August, 2021, COVID-19 restrictions in South Australia will be eased slightly. The Emergency Management (Activities - Associated Direction No.7) has now been published. The main easing of restrictions is the density requirement. Other restrictions introduced last week remain. The new level of restrictions that come into effect on Thursday, 5th August 2021 are as follows:

  • Density requirements of 1 person per 2 (two) square metres
  • Seated consumption of food and beverages both indoors and outdoors and no communal food or beverage facilities
  • Singing by worshippers is not permitted. At indoor places, only an individual singer is currently allowed to sing.  We understand this to mean that musicians who regularly rehearse together are also allowed, suitably distanced from one another
  • Weddings and funerals are capped at 50 attendees. The cap also applies to the wedding reception or funeral wake refreshments after the service
  • Private gatherings in households are limited to 10 people (this would apply to small groups/ bible study groups in homes)
  • Gyms/fitness classes have a density requirement of 1 person per 4 (four) square metres. This will affect some hirers of church halls
  • Wearing of masks is mandatory in high risk settings, personal care and health care services, passenger and public transport, secondary schools, and indoor public places – this includes churches, and office foyers.

The Premier also stated that masks are still recommended to be worn in open plan work-places, and particularly in common areas like the lunch-room and photocopy areas. This may impact church offices, as well as church meetings, for example, Church Council meetings. Planning for all of our church activities should take this into account. With this in mind, if you are attending any of the Synod sites: the Pirie Street office, the Brooklyn Park campus, or Uniting Venues, please wear a mask, particularly in public spaces.

Churches should be sent an updated COVID Safe Plan from the government before the new restrictions come into operation. We encourage congregations to follow their COVID Safe Plans, as they will contain all the information you need.

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August 3 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

The Premier has announced that from 12:01am Thursday 5 August 2021, COVID-19 restrictions in South Australia will be eased slightly. The main easing of restrictions is the density requirement. Other restrictions introduced last week will remain.

We will send out a detailed update in coming days when we receive the government Activities Direction with the details of the new restrictions. 

Churches will be sent an updated COVID Safe Plan from the government before the new restrictions come into operation. We encourage congregations to follow their COVID Safe Plans, as they will contain all the information you need.

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July 29th 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

The Premier has announced that from 12:01am Wednesday 28 July 2021, COVID-19 restrictions in South Australia will be eased from Level 5 to Level 3 restrictions. This means the lockdown will end, but there will still be some restrictions in place. The new level of restrictions that come into effect on Wednesday 28th July are as follows:

  • Density requirements of 1 person per 4 (four) square metres
  • Seated consumption of food and beverages both indoors and outdoors and no communal food or beverage facilities
  • Singing by worshippers is not permitted.  At indoor places, only an individual singer is currently allowed to sing.  We understand this to mean that musicians who regularly rehearse together are also allowed, suitably distanced from one another.
  • Weddings and funerals are capped at 50 attendees. The cap also applies to the wedding reception or funeral wake/ refreshments after the service.
  • Private gatherings in households are limited to 10 people (this would apply to small groups/ bible study groups in homes)
  • Gyms/fitness classes have a density requirement of 1 person per 8 m2.  This will affect some hirers of church halls.
  • Wearing of masks is mandatory in high risk settings, personal care and health care services, passenger and public transport, secondary schools, and indoor public places –this includes churches.

The Premier also stated that masks are strongly recommended to be worn in open plan work-places, and particularly in common areas like the lunch-room, photocopy area, lifts and foyer. This will impact church offices, as well as church meetings, for example, Church Council meetings.

Professor Spurrier, the Chief Public Health Officer stated that the rule of thumb for South Australians is that if you can wear a mask, then you should wear a mask. This means that planning for all of our church activities should take this into account. With this in mind, if you are attending any of the Synod sites: the Pirie Street office, the Brooklyn Park campus, or Uniting Venues for meetings or other events, please wear a mask.

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July 28th 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

The Premier has announced that from 12:01am Wednesday 28 July 2021, COVID-19 restrictions in South Australia will be eased from Level 5 to Level 3 restrictions. This means the lockdown will end, but there will still be some restrictions in place. The new level of restrictions that come into effect on Wednesday 28th July are as follows:

  • Density requirements of 1 person per 4 (four) square metres
  • Seated consumption of food and beverages both indoors and outdoors and no communal food or beverage facilities
  • No singing unless:

the person is performing individually (not including a karaoke performer); or

the person is a member of a group of performers performing or rehearsing in the premises (not including karaoke performers or persons performing or rehearsing as part of a choir or chorus); or

the premises are an educational establishment; or

the person is undertaking or providing an individual lesson.

  • Weddings and funerals are capped at 50 attendees. The cap also applies to the wedding reception or funeral wake/ refreshments after the service.
     
  • Private gatherings in households are limited to 10 people (this would apply to small groups/ bible study groups in homes)
     
  • Gyms/fitness classes have a density requirement of 1 person per 8 m2.  This will affect some hirers of church halls.
     
  • Wearing of masks is mandatory in high risk settings, personal care and health care services, passenger and public transport, secondary schools, and indoor public places –this includes churches.

The Premier also stated that masks are strongly recommended to be worn in open plan work-places, and particularly in common areas like the lunch-room, photocopy area, lifts and foyer. This will impact church offices, as well as church meetings, for example, Church Council meetings.

Professor Spurrier, the Chief Public Health Officer stated that the rule of thumb for South Australians is that if you can wear a mask, then you should wear a mask. This means that planning for all of our church activities should take this into account. With this in mind, if you are attending any of the Synod sites: the Pirie Street office, the Brooklyn Park campus, or Uniting Venues for meetings or other events, please wear a mask.

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July 20th, 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

The Premier has announced that from 6pm Tuesday 20 July, South Australia will be under Level 5 restrictions. This means a state-wide, 7 day lockdown in South Australia.  From 6pm on Tuesday 20 July 2021, there will only be 5 reasons to leave your home:

  • Care and compassion reasons such as caring for a loved one
  • Essential work
  • Medical reasons including vaccination and testing
  • Purchase of essential goods such as food
  • Exercise –  with people in same household, within 2.5km from home, once a day for maximum 90 minutes.

The Premier has made clear that this is a stay at home order. This is a greater level of restriction than we have experienced up until now, due to the current outbreak being the Delta strain of COVID-19.

This means that all activities at churches need to be cancelled for the next 7 days. There is NOT an option for a small group to gather at church to pre-record worship for Sunday. The Emergency Management Direction provides that, ‘faith leaders broadcasting services or ceremonies at places of worship’ are considered essential workers. This means that only the Minister or person in placement in the Ministry of Pastor is authorised to go to the church to broadcast worship.

We encourage you to be creative about how you worship together this Sunday. 

The only other reason that someone may attend the church site is in the event of an emergency (e.g. the alarm goes off; a weather event causes damage)

The Emergency Management Direction also considers to be essential workers those who are providing  ‘care services for people with particular needs because of homelessness, age, infirmity, disability, illness…. Or other essential support services’. This means that churches who are designated UnitingCare SA Emergency Relief Centres may continue to operate. For further information contact UnitingCare SA. 

All Synod sites (Pirie Street office, Brooklyn Park campus and Uniting Venues) will be closed for the next 7 days, with staff working from home. Please continue to be in touch with staff as you need to.

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July 15th, 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

The Premier has announced new restrictions applicable to churches effective from midnight (12:01am) Friday, 16th July 2021. These changes include:

  • Density requirements for ceremonies (which includes church services, weddings and funerals) revised back to 1 person per 2sqm
  • We encourage masks in contexts where it is difficult to maintain social distancing
  • No congregational singing this Sunday (18th July), even wearing masks.

This means that there is to be no congregational singing, chorus singers or choirs until further notice - even wearing masks.

We strongly encourage congregations to consider the intent of this restriction and to seek to find other ways to worship together. Please pay special attention to the SA Government website as you prepare for worship and other events this weekend.

We expect that as per the previous direction, a small worship group of musicians and singers who regularly rehearse and perform together may be permissible.

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July 5th 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

The Premier and Police Commissioner announced on July 5th, 2021, a relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictions applicable to churches which were enacted last week. Restrictions have now been revised back (effective immediately) to the following:

Density requirements for churches:

  • where worshippers are in fixed seating - the requirement that worshippers wear masks when more than 75% of the seats are occupied

  • where worshippers are not in fixed seating - the requirement that worshippers wear masks if the total number of persons present at the place exceeds 3 persons per 4 square metres.

In addition, the following restrictions apply:

  • Reasonable steps must be taken to maintain 1.5m physical distancing
  • COVID-Safe Plans, QR codes (contact tracing) and COVID Marshals required
  • Residential gatherings limited to a maximum of 50 people unrestricted (51-200 requires a COVID-Safe Plan)
  • Private gatherings (such as wakes and receptions) 3 person per 4sqm, limited to a maximum of 200 people
  • Food and beverages may be consumed whilst standing (no communal service areas such as buffets).

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July 2nd 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

Following the release of the Public Activities Direction (No 27) enacted late yesterday afternoon (1st July 2021) a further revised restriction relating to singing has been included. The revised guideline for congregations now states that singing is not permitted at indoor premises that are non-residential unless:

  • the singer is performing individually (not including a karaoke performer); or
  • the singers are members of a group of performers and they are performing or rehearsing in the indoor premises (not including karaoke performers or persons performing or rehearsing as part of a choir or chorus); or
  • the premises are an educational establishment; or
  • the singers are undertaking or providing an individual lesson.

There is to be no congregational singing, chorus singers or choirs until further notice - even wearing masks. It is understood that a small worship group of musicians and singers who regularly rehearse and perform together may be permissible.

We strongly encourage congregations to consider the intent of this restriction and to seek to find other ways to worship together.

The density restrictions for ceremonies (which includes church services, weddings and funerals) continues to be revised back to 1 person per 2sqm.

In addition, the following restrictions apply:

  • Reasonable steps must be taken to maintain 1.5m physical distancing
  • COVID-Safe Plans, QR codes (contact tracing) and COVID Marshals required
  • Residential gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 people (Greater Metropolitan Adelaide, Adelaide Hills, Barossa and Fleurieu Peninsula Council areas only)
  • Private gatherings (such as wakes and receptions) 1 person per 2sqm, limited to a maximum of 150 people
  • Food and beverages to be consumed whilst seated (no communal service areas such as buffets)
  • Face masks mandatory in health care and personal care settings such as residential care, hospitals, hairdressers and beauty salons
  • Face masks strongly recommended in indoor public places and on public transport where social distancing is difficult to achieve.

Further information is available directly from the Government of SA website at this link.

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July 1st 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

Following the release of the Public Activities Direction (No 26) enacted late yesterday (30th June 2021) a revised restriction relating to singing has been included. The revised guideline for congregations is now:

There is to be no congregational singing, worship groups with more than one singer or choirs this Sunday (4th July) - even wearing masks. Singing is limited to an individual ‘performer’ only.  We understand that an individual singer may be accompanied by an instrumentalist(s).

We strongly encourage congregations to consider the intent of this restriction and to seek to find other ways to worship together.

The density restrictions for ceremonies (which includes church services, weddings and funerals) continues to be revised back to 1 person per 2sqm.

In addition, the following restrictions apply:

  • Reasonable steps must be taken to maintain 1.5m physical distancing
  • COVID-Safe Plans, QR codes (contact tracing) and COVID Marshals required
  • Residential gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 people (Greater Metropolitan Adelaide, Adelaide Hills, Barossa and Fleurieu Peninsula Council areas only)
  • Private gatherings (such as wakes and receptions) 1 person per 2sqm, limited to a maximum of 150 people
  • Food and beverages to be consumed whilst seated (no communal service areas such as buffets)
  • Face masks mandatory in health care and personal care settings such as residential care, hospitals, hairdressers and beauty salons
  • Face masks strongly recommended in indoor public places and on public transport where social distancing is difficult to achieve.

Further information is available directly from the Government of SA website at this link.

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June 30th 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

Government guidelines indicate that there is to be no congregational singing this Sunday (4th July) - even wearing masks. Where the guidelines have referred to a 'worship group' this means 'performance’ singing by a small worship group or choir with accompanying instrumentalist(s) which is permissible as per normal practice.

We strongly encourage congregations to consider the intent of this restriction and to seek to find other ways to worship together.

The density restrictions for ceremonies (which includes church services, weddings and funerals) continues to be revised back to 1 person per 2sqm.

In addition, the following restrictions apply:

  • Reasonable steps must be taken to maintain 1.5m physical distancing
  • COVID-Safe Plans, QR codes (contact tracing) and COVID Marshals required
  • Residential gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 people
  • Private gatherings (such as wakes and receptions) 1 person per 2sqm, limited to a maximum of 150 people
  • Food and beverages to be consumed whilst seated (no communal service areas such as buffets)
  • Face masks mandatory in health care and personal care settings such as residential care, hospitals, hairdressers and beauty salons
  • Face masks strongly recommended in indoor public places and on public transport where social distancing is difficult to achieve.

Further information is available directly from the Government of SA website at this link.

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June 29th 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

The Premier and Police Commissioner have announced a further change to COVID-19 restrictions applicable to churches effective from midnight (12:01am) Tuesday, 29th June 2021. These changes include:

  • Density restrictions for ceremonies (which includes church services, weddings and funerals) revised back to 1 person per 2sqm
  • Reasonable steps must be taken to maintain 1.5m physical distancing
  • COVID-Safe Plans, QR codes (contact tracing) and COVID Marshals required
  • Singing to be restricted to worship group only (includes services and rehearsals)
  • Residential gatherings up to 50 maximum unrestricted (51-150 max with COVID-Safe Plan)
  • Private gatherings (such as wakes and receptions) 1 person per 2sqm, limited to a maximum of 150 people
  • Food and beverages to be consumed whilst seated (no communal service areas such as buffets)
  • Face masks mandatory in health care and personal care settings such as residential care, hospitals, hairdressers and beauty salons.

Please continue to follow the specific restrictions provided in your updated COVID-Safe Plan. Further information is available directly from the Government of SA website at this link.

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March 31 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

We recently reported that the South Australian Government updated its COVID-19 restrictions which come into effect on 31st March 2021 as follows:

  • The density requirement will move from 1 person per 2 square metres to 3 people per 4 square metres (equivalent to 75%)
  • The capacity for cinemas, live theatres, performance venues and places of worship with fixed seating will increase from 75% to 100% provided attendees are wearing a mask.

We have now been able to clarify this information as it relates to churches, as follows:

Density requirements for churches:

  • where worshippers are in fixed seating - the requirement that worshippers wear masks when more than 75% of the seats are occupied
  • where worshippers are not in fixed seating - the requirement that worshippers wear masks if the total number of persons present at the place exceeds 3 persons per 4 square metres.

Churches must take reasonable steps to maintain 1.5m physical distancing

Contact tracing is required

Churches must continue to have a COVID Marshal

COVID Safe Plans will be updated and sent to churches automatically.

There does not appear to be any specific mention in the updated guidelines in regards to weddings and funerals and our best interpretation is that an 'open to the public' wedding or funeral ceremony at a church would only be restricted by density requirements.  However, any associated event following this, such as a reception or wake would be a private event and still capped at 200.

We have updated the COVID-19 Guidelines for Uniting Church Congregations document to reflect these changes and it is available for download at this link.

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March 26 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

The Premier and Police Commissioner have announced a further relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions applicable to churches effective from midnight Tuesday, 30th March 2021. Some of the changes include:

  • Density restriction incresed to 3 per 4sqm (75%)
  • 100% capacity allowable in churches with fixed seating provided attendees are wearing a mask
  • Wedding and funeral ceremonies will be relaxed in line with density
  • COVID-Safe Plans and QR Codes remain
  • Residential gatherings remain the same (up to 50 maximum unrestricted and 51-200 max with COVID-Safe Plan.

We have been advised by the Government of SA that further work is being done to provide clarity about the new COVID restrictions. We have been told that this guidance will be provided by Tuesday, 30th March 2021.

Churches are encouraged to plan their Holy Week and Easter services on the existing COVID restrictions which we have been operating under for quite some time.

The SA Government’s COVID website is: https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/restrictions-and-responsibilities/activities-and-gatherings

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February 10 2021: Update to COVID-19 Restrictions in SA

We continue to listent to the latest advice of both SA Police and SA Health and we strongly encourage congregations to follow their COVID-Safe Plans and continue to apply the following guidelines:

  • The provision for indoor church services stands at one person per 2sqm density (this includes the total number of persons in any single room or enclosed area)
  • Must take reasonable steps to maintain 1.5m physical distancing
  • COVID Marshal required (online training course mandatory)
  • Contact tracing must be in operation at each church site using the SA Government supplied QR Code or where this is not possible (e.g. person has no smartphone) then paper form applies
  • No communal food or beverage service areas, including buffet style
  • Private functions, weddings and funerals are capped at 200 people with one person per 2sqm density requirement and invitation only. Standing consumption and dancing is allowed
  • Gatherings at residential premises permitted for up to 50 people (51-200 permitted only with COVID Safe Plan, COVID Marshal and QR Code).

If you have further questions, please continue to work with your presbyteries or contact:

Rev Sue Page – Associate General Secretary
Email: spage@sa.uca.org.au
Phone: (08) 8236 4217

Rev Philip Gardner
Email: pgardner@sa.uca.org.au
Phone: (08) 8236 4268

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LETTER FROM THE GENERAL SECRETARY (Thursday, 10th Dec 2020)

COVID-19 Resources


                                                       

           COVID-19 Guidelines                            Checklist for Congregations                  Government Contact Tracing Record 
                   (26 Oct 2020)                                             (28 May 2020)                                          Attendance Register
                                                                                                                                                             (1 June 2020)

As the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly provide COVID-19 updates, they will be detailed below:


For all enquiries about Coronavirus, please contact:

Please note that we may experience a heightened number of enquiries. Your patience and understanding are greatly appreciated.
Please email us in the first instance, leave a message with your name and phone number, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Get the latest updates from the Uniting Church in SA regarding COVID-19 and weekly newsletters, subscribe below!

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