Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. has eased COVID-19 restrictions to allow more honors support at burials, but access to the hallowed grounds remains limited to funeral attendees and family pass holders.
In an announcement Monday, Arlington said that a "Modified Escort" will now be available at funerals that includes service branch body bearers, a firing party, escort commander with guidon, an escort, a bugler, a drummer, the national colors and a chaplain.
A caisson platoon from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army known as the "Old Guard," may also be requested.
In addition, funerals of Army and Marine Corps members with the rank of colonel and above may have a "caparisoned," or riderless, horse, and flag officers of all services may receive an appropriate presidential battery gun salute, cemetery officials said.
The bar on the number of attendees at funerals has also been raised. The limit had been fewer than 10 attendees, and now is fewer than 50.
The cemetery remains closed to the public, including for the Fourth of July, and family pass holders are limited to visiting the gravesite of a loved one while wearing a face mask, and are not permitted to tour the cemetery. The Arlington Cemetery Metro stop also remained closed.
With COVID-19 cases in the region trending downward, the cemetery is looking to implement a phased plan to increase access, cemetery officials said.
However, the 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 COVID-19 environment," Karen Durham-Aguilera, Arlington's executive director, said in a statement.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.