The Centre on Tuesday allowed entry of foreign journalists and their dependents to India if they possess a valid visa, and also relaxed norms for entry of foreign visitors, The Indian Express reported.

“In addition to the categories of foreign nationals who are permitted to enter India vide this ministry’s OM of even number dated 30th June, 2020, it has been decided to permit foreign nationals holding Journalist [J-1] visa and their dependents holding J-1X visa to enter India,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in an order. “If they have J-1 or J-1X visas, which have been suspended, such visas shall stand restored with immediate effect.... However, if the validity of such visas has expired, they may obtain a fresh J-1 or J-1X visa, as the case may be from the Indian Missions/Posts concerned.”

Foreign journalists travelling to India for either work or tourism are granted a J-category visa, which is usually valid for three months but can be renewed, according to The Print.

The ministry further said the restrictions at immigration check posts will not be applicable for foreign journalists, who are returning to the country. The journalists would, however, have to adhere to quarantine and other coronavirus-related guidelines issued by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The matter of restriction on foreign journalists not being allowed entry to India was first brought into light by The Financial Times’ South Asia Bureau chief Amy Kazmin on August 11. The next day, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted Kazmind brought to his attention and said that it reflected “poorly on our democracy and respect for free press.”

On August 7, The Union Ministry of Home Affairs had announced that Overseas Citizen of India card holders from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France will be allowed to visit the country. Indian citizens will also be allowed to travel to these countries on any kind of visa, the Centre said.

Meanwhile, India’s coronavirus tally rose to 27,67,273 on Wednesday morning as the country reported 64,531 new cases in 24 hours. The toll increased by 1,092 to 52,889. India reported a record 60,091 recoveries in a day, taking the total number of discharged cases to 20,37,870.

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