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VA drops COVID-19 restrictions for Memorial Day cemetery visits

All restrictions on Memorial Day 2021 visits to national cemeteries, including Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., by vaccinated visitors were lifted by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
All restrictions on Memorial Day 2021 visits to national cemeteries, including Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., by vaccinated visitors were lifted by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
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May 21 (UPI) -- Restrictions on cemetery visits during the Memorial Day weekend, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were lifted on Friday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

No masks, social distancing requirements or limits on the size of groups will be demanded of any visitors vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, although those not vaccinated are expected to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

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The announcement follows a May 13 order allowing "fully vaccinated NCA [National Cemetery Association] employees, on-site contractors, volunteers, to include honor guards, and visitors" to forego masks.

As on Memorial Day weekend in 2020, ceremonies at the 155 national veterans' cemeteries will be reduced in size and scope this year, but visitors will be able to resume remembrance activities under the same terms as prior to the pandemic.

"For those of us in the VA and especially those in the National Cemetery Administration, Memorial Day is one of the most important days of the year," acting Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ron Walters said on Friday.

"I'm sure many families will be happy to get the news that there will no longer be a limit on the number of people who can attend these services."

Additionally, families who arranged small funeral services at national cemeteries during the pandemic can now request another memorial service with a larger audience.

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