VA relaxes masking requirements at health care facilities

The Department of Veterans Affairs has relaxed the masking requirement at VA medical facilities, which will no longer universally require masks in most clinical areas.

“Now that the public health emergency has ended, we are updating our masking policies to reflect our new reality while still ensuring the safety of the veterans we serve,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Shereef Elnahal, a former New Jersey health commissioner and CEO of University Hospital in Newark. “Except for the highest-risk areas and situations, masking will be greatly relaxed for Veterans and clinicians at VA health care facilities.”

Masks will continue to be required for staff, veterans, and visitors while in the high-risk areas listed below, including waiting areas:  

  • Transplant units .  
  • Dialysis .  
  • Chemotherapy units .  
  • Emergency department and urgent care.   
  • Open bay medical intensive care units. 
  • Spinal cord injury and community living centers (staff and visitors only, with the exception that visitors to CLCs and SCI may unmask when visiting with a patient within that patient’s room or outside.)

  Masking also continues to be required:

  • For those with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection or other viral respiratory infection.
  • For VHA healthcare personnel upon request of a veteran patient, caregiver, or family member.
  • Where local leadership warrants continued masking is required.

During the pandemic, VA delivered more care to more veterans than ever before — providing more than 332 million health care appointments to veterans, caring for more than 870,000 veterans with COVID-19, and vaccinating more than 4.4 million veterans.

Moving forward, VA will monitor any changes to CDC guidelines and update infection control recommendations as necessary.

For more information regarding COVID-19 policies at VA, visit the Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions web page.

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