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An Arlington National Cemetery worker mows the grass on gravesites in 2017.
An Arlington National Cemetery worker mows the grass on gravesites in 2017. (Stars and Stripes)

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WASHINGTON – Members of the public will be allowed inside Arlington National Cemetery this week for the first time since March.

Starting Wednesday, visitors will be allowed to enter the cemetery to visit gravesites. The cemetery closed in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. For six months, only funeral attendees and family pass holders were allowed entry.

Now, the cemetery will be open to the public every day from 8 a.m. to noon. Points of interest inside the cemetery will remain closed, including the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, the John F. Kennedy gravesite, the amphitheater, the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier and exhibits inside the welcome center.

“As conditions in the National Capital Region have continued to improve, our goal is to provide increased access for the public to visit a loved one’s gravesite,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of the cemetery. “We hope this limited reopening will better accommodate our visitors.”

According to guidance issued Tuesday, members of the public will be screened outside the welcome center before entering the cemetery. Masks will be required at all times.

The superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, Charles “Ray” Alexander Jr., said cemetery staff was preparing for a full opening in the “near future.”

“We are conducting internal assessments of the care and protection of our visitors,” Alexander said in a statement. “We will evaluate our standard operating procedures and efficiencies to ensure the outstanding visitor experience and high standards people expect when coming to the cemetery.” Twitter: @nikkiwentling

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