Arlington National Cemetery will close to visitors beginning Friday, March 13, as the cemetery takes precautionary measures to protect the health of employees, families and visitors, according to a news release.
Funerals will be conducted as scheduled, but family members should contact 877- 907-8585 for more information on new arrival procedures or if they would like to reschedule a funeral. The cemetery will be open to family pass holders only for visitation from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the release noted.
"U.S. Army and Department of Defense guidance is clear: force health protection is paramount," said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of the Office of Army National Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery, "We have a responsibility to protect our employees, the families of our fallen service members paying respect to their loved ones, and to the thousands of visitors per day who come here to appreciate this national shrine. We do not make this decision lightly, but closing our doors to visitors allows us to focus our energy and resources on our core mission of safely laying our nation's warriors to rest."
The cemetery is complying with the defense department directives and supplemental "Force Health Protection Guidance for the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak." and has implemented risk-based measures consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the release noted.
Ray Alexander, superintendent at Arlington National Cemetery stated, "protecting the health of our force and our visitors is a top priority; we are taking proactive steps to mitigate the spread of the virus as many of the cemetery's memorials and visitor spaces do not allow for the recommended 'social distancing' that is called for by medical guidelines."
Families who arrive at the cemetery for their scheduled funerals are being asked to remain in their cars when they arrive into the designated queuing lanes. For more information on how to proceed once you arrive at Arlington, visit www.ArlingtonCemetery.mil.