All restrictions on gathering sizes in VA national cemeteries will be lifted beginning May 26, the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) announced.
The move ends COVID-related protocols in place at the 155 national cemeteries since June 9. Fully vaccinated visitors also are no longer required to wear masks or follow physical distancing requirements; those who are not fully vaccinated are still required to wear a face covering and follow distancing requirements.
[MOAA PREMIUM AND LIFE MEMBER DOWNLOAD: Your Guide to Military Burials]
Mass flag placements also will be allowed this year; those wishing to participate should contact their nearby national cemetery. Memorial Day ceremonies will vary by location, with VA Secretary Denis McDonough presiding over a wreath laying at Quantico National Cemetery in Virginia on May 28.
Arlington Rule Changes
Arlington National Cemetery also removed its limitations on the number of funeral attendees at graveside services, though services at the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Old Post Chapel remain capped at 50 attendees. As with NCA sites, vaccinated individuals do not need face coverings outdoors. However, all those inside will require masks, regardless of vaccination status.
Multiple other changes have taken or will take affect at Arlington National Cemetery in the days leading up to Memorial Day:
- The Arlington National Cemetery Metro station reopened May 23 to the public.
- The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite fully reopened May 24, as did the Memorial Amphitheater and Welcome Center exhibits. Public wreath ceremonies also resumed as of that date.
- The Welcome Center bookstore will reopen May 27.
More information on updated guidance is available at the Arlington National Cemetery website.
American Battle Monuments Commission
All Memorial Day ceremonies at the dozens of military cemeteries and memorials maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) will be closed to the public, the commission announced May 18.
ABMC facilities already open to the public will close during the ceremonies and reopen at their conclusion.
On May 31, the commission will stream the World War I Memorial Day ceremony from Suresnes American Cemetery in Paris and the World War II Memorial Day ceremony from Epinal American Cemetery in eastern France on its Facebook page and YouTube channel.
It’s more important than ever to make sure you’re in the know and your military benefits are protected.