NCA lifts restrictions on participation in incarceration services, adjusts COVID safety precautions

VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA) announced last week that it would lift all restrictions on the size of gatherings during incarceration and remembrance services at VA national cemeteries starting Wednesday, May 26, 2021.

Earlier this week, the NCA adjusted its rules for visitors and staff in line with new CDC guidelines, Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Immunized People. Fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks and physically distance themselves when in a national cemetery.

“This is an important step in restoring full operations,” said Acting Undersecretary for Commemorative Affairs Ronald Walters. “We are happy that families no longer have to limit the number of people attending a service or physically distance themselves from each other after being fully immunized.”

Limitations on the number of people allowed to attend incarceration and remembrance services have been in place since June 9, 2020. Between March 23 and June 8, 2020, VA’s national cemeteries performed only direct burials. and did not authorize incarceration or commemoration services due to the pandemic.

In line with new CDC guidelines, the NCA will still require people who are not fully immunized to practice CDC recommended safety procedures – such as wearing face coverings and maintaining a physical distance. – when they visit a cemetery or attend a service.

The NCA oversees 155 national cemeteries and provides grants to 118 additional state, territorial and tribal cemeteries across the country. Over 93% of veterans living in the United States have access to a free veteran burial option within a 75-mile radius of their place of residence.

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Susan W. Lloyd