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Arlington National Cemetery loosens some restrictions on military funerals

The U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard and the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon conduct military funeral honors with modified escort for U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jesse W. Lewis, Jr. at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, on June 29, 2020.

ELISABETH FRASER/ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 29, 2020

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WASHINGTON – More people will be allowed to attend funerals at Arlington National Cemetery starting Monday as the site moves to the next step of its phased reopening.

Up to 50 people will be allowed at gravesites during military funerals, up from the 10-person limit that went into effect in March. The cemetery will also begin offering more honors at funerals – such as gun salutes, body bearers, buglers and drummers – after curtailing them for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Arlington National Cemetery will continue to balance activities to protect our workforce, funeral attendees and family pass holders while we work to accomplish our most sacred mission in this [coronavirus] environment,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of the cemetery.

The change was made because coronavirus cases in the Washington area are trending down, the cemetery said in a statement. In Washington, Maryland and Virginia, hospitalizations were trending down as of Friday. Virginia is preparing to enter phase three of its reopening plan on July 1.

Arlington National Cemetery remains in phase two of its four-phase plan. Phase three is expected to include opening the cemetery to the public, with some restrictions in place.

As of now, the cemetery will remain closed to anyone except family pass holders and funeral attendees, and those who enter are required to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing. Family pass holders and funeral attendees are allowed only to visit their loved one’s grave, and then exit the cemetery when they’re done.

While the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority reopened 15 train stations Monday, the Arlington National Cemetery stop remained closed.

Wentling.nikki@stripes.com
Twitter: @nikkiwentling
 

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