U.S. eases COVID-19 travel advisory for India, Pakistan

An advisory encouraging people to maintain social distancing and weara a protective face mask is seen, after the government allowed domestic flight services to resume from coming Monday, during an extended nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, in New Delhi, India, May 23, 2020. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

WASHINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department has lowered its COVID 19-related travel advisory for India to "Level 3 – Reconsider Travel," the department said in a statement on Tuesday.

The advisory for Pakistan was similarly eased, it said. The COVID-19 advisories were previously the highest Level 4, "Do not travel."

India's daily coronavirus cases have fallen to four-month lows after a second wave that crippled the healthcare system. But experts have warned the authorities against swiftly reopening cities and voiced concerns about overcrowding at tourist sites.

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The decision does not impact travel restrictions imposed in May that bar nearly all non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States who have been in India within the last 14 days.

Similar travel restrictions are in place for South Africa, China, Iran, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and 26 countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders.

Permanent U.S. residents and family members and some other non-U.S. citizens, such as students, are exempted.

The White House is holding a new round of high level meetings this week about the travel restrictions, sources told Reuters, but given no indication it plans to quickly lift them.

"Any decisions about reopening travel will be guided by our public health and medical experts. We take this incredibly seriously," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday.

Nearly all travelers to the United States by air must show proof of a negative coronavirus test or recovery from COVID-19.

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Reporting by Mohammad Zargham and David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Rosalba O'Brien

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