In Time for Memorial Day, VA and Arlington Remove COVID Restrictions at Cemeteries

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man standing in a cemetery
(R. J. Lannom Jr./DVIDS)

The Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of the Army have announced that they will lift restrictions on gathering sizes at national cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery next week.

The VA will relax restrictions effective Wednesday, May 26, 2021, while the Army, which manages Arlington National Cemetery, said it will lift many COVID-related restrictions effective Monday, May 24, 2021.

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the recommendation that fully vaccinated people can resume many normal pre-COVID activities, the VA and Army announced that most vaccinated visitors to their cemeteries -- as well as those attending funeral and memorial services -- no longer will be required to wear masks or maintain an extended physical distance from others.

However, those who are not fully vaccinated or in states with more restrictive regulations still must practice the safety procedures recommended by local authorities or the CDC, including wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing.

"This is an important step in restoring full operations," Ronald Walters, acting under secretary for memorial affairs for the National Cemetery Association, said in a press release. "We are pleased families will no longer have to limit the number of people attending a service or physically distance themselves from each other after they are fully vaccinated."

At Arlington, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and President John F. Kennedy's gravesite will be fully open to the public. However, visitors to indoor venues at the cemetery still must wear face coverings regardless of their vaccination status.

While there are no large-scale activities planned at VA cemeteries this year, family members and others may visit the 155 national cemeteries across the U.S. and its territories to pay respects to veterans leading to Memorial Day on Monday, May 31.

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