VA Ends Universal Masking Requirement at Medical Facilities

VA Ends Universal Masking Requirement at Medical Facilities

The VA lifted its universal masking requirement at medical facilities May 30, nearly three months after doing the same for non-medical buildings.


Rules outlined in a press release at apply to staff, patients, and visitors, and remove the requirement for all areas except:

  • Transplant and chemotherapy units  
  • Dialysis
  • Emergency department and urgent care  
  • Open bay medical intensive care units 
  • Spinal cord injury (SCI) and community living centers (CLCs)


Individuals in waiting areas for the above high-risk locations also must remain masked, per the release. SCL and CLC patients are not required to mask, and visitors to those areas may unmask when visiting a patient.


[RELATED: What the End of the COVID-19 Emergency Means for Your Health Care]


Those with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 also must remain masked, according to the guidance, as must those in facilities “where local leadership warrants continued masking is required.” Veterans Health Administration staff must put on a mask if requested to do so by a patient, caregiver, or family member.


The federally declared COVID-19 public health emergency expired May 11. An updated list of COVID-related VA services, including vaccine and treatment information, is available at


Mask regulations at DoD medical facilities have varied by location, but facilities such as Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va., removed their universal requirements in March 2023.


“Now that the public health emergency has ended, we are updating our masking policies to reflect our new reality while still ensuring the safety of the Veterans we serve,” Dr. Shereef Elnahal, the VA undersecretary for health, said in the release. “Except for the highest-risk areas and situations, masking will be greatly relaxed for Veterans and clinicians at VA health care facilities.”


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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and Follow him on X: @KRLilley