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)

Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.

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

author picture
Nikki Wentling has worked for Stars and Stripes since 2016. She reports from Congress, the White House, the Department of Veterans Affairs and throughout the country about issues affecting veterans, service members and their families. Wentling, a graduate of the University of Kansas, previously worked at the Lawrence Journal-World and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans awarded Stars and Stripes the Meritorious Service Award in 2020 for Wentling’s reporting on homeless veterans during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018, she was named by the nonprofit HillVets as one of the 100 most influential people in regard to veterans policymaking.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now