VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA) last week announced it would lift all restrictions on gathering sizes at committal and memorial services in VA national cemeteries starting on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
Earlier this week, the NCA adjusted its rules for visitors and staff members in accordance with the CDC’s new guidance, Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People. Fully vaccinated persons are no longer required to wear masks and physically distance themselves while at a national cemetery.
“This is an important step in restoring full operations,” said Acting Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ronald Walters. “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.”
Limitations on the number of persons permitted to attend committal and memorial services have been in place since June 9, 2020. Between March 23 and June 8, 2020, VA national cemeteries only performed direct interments, and did not permit committal or memorial services due to the pandemic.
Consistent with the new CDC guidance, NCA will still require persons who are not fully vaccinated to practice the safety procedures recommended by the CDC – such as wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distancing – while visiting a cemetery or attending a service.
The NCA oversees 155 national cemeteries and provides grant funding to an additional 118 state, territorial and tribal cemeteries across the nation. More than 93% of Veterans living in the U.S. have access to a free Veterans burial option within 75 miles of where they live.