WACO, TX — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has lifted restrictions on gathering sizes for committal services and memorial services at VA national cemeteries.
The announcement made last week in a press release, states the removal of restrictions on the number of persons permitted to attend services goes into effect today Wed., May 26.
The previous limits had been in place since June 2020, and between March 23 and June 8 of last year, VA National Cemeteries only performed directed interments, according to the press release.
The change in rules for visitors and staff was made in concert with CDC's updated guidance for fully vaccinated persons.
Now, those fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear masks or physically distance while visiting a national cemetery.
However, the NCA will still require persons not fully vaccinated to maintain wearing face coverings, maintain social distancing, and follow recommended CDC protocol.
The change in restrictions come ahead of Memorial Day weekend, which will look closer to normal with the VA announcing mass flag placements will be allowed to take place at national cemeteries across the U.S. to commemorate Memorial Day in a Monday press release.
"In addition, all 155 VA national cemeteries will be open Memorial Day weekend from dawn to dusk. Cemeteries with full staffs will also hold brief wreath-laying ceremonies followed by a moment of silence and taps over Memorial Day weekend, but these will not be open to the public."
The change is another sign of a nation easing out of pandemic. However, Memorial Day weekend still won't resemble those we experienced pre-pandemic. Some Memorial Day events are closed to the public or held virtually.
At Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, cemetery staff will hand out bundles of flags to community who come out to place flags on grave sites. The virtual event will also feature a former 1st Calvary Division commander, Keynote Speaker Lieutenant General (R) J.T. Thomson.
The event will not be open to the public. Still, a live stream of the event will be provided on the Area Veterans Advisory Committee and Killeen Daily Herald Facebook pages, according to a post from the Texans Veterans Land board. There you can find more information on Memorial Day events taking place ahead of and on Memorial Day.