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Latter-day Saint church releases guidelines for returning to meetings, activities

Posted at 11:18 AM, May 19, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has informed its general and local leaders of a two-phase plan for returning to weekly worship services and activities.

The plan can only go into effect "when local government regulations allow and after the faith’s Area Presidencies provide additional guidance to local Church leaders," a news release from the Latter-day Saint church said.

The plan can be adjusted to match local conditions.

Right now, most of Utah is in the low-risk "yellow" phase, while some areas remain in the moderate-risk "orange" phase. Both phases of Utah’s re-opening plan allow for religious services to resume in person of any size, with restrictions. To read restrictions under the yellow phase, click here, and under the orange phase, click here.

“Governor Herbert recognizes the importance of faith groups during these difficult times. Under the Orange (Moderate Risk) and Yellow (Low Risk) Utah COVID-19 Health Risk Status Phased Guidelines, faith groups are able to hold in-person religious services of any size as long as a distance of at least six feet is maintained between household groups,” Utah’s coronavirus website reads.

In the first phase of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ plan, shortened Sunday worship services in groups of up to 99 people can occur.

The plan also allows for other shortened meetings and activities, such as weddings and funerals), and those meetings and activities may be held remotely using technology.

In the plan's second phase, group sizes for Sunday worship services and other meetings and activities can expand to groups of 100 or greater, following local government regulations.

“We’ve worked closely with faith leaders in developing considerations for returning to in-person religious services. These considerations can be found in the color-coded health guidance we have release on our web site. We’re confident faith leaders will do all they can to ensure in-person services are held in a manner that will protect the health of their congregations,” Tom Hudachko with the Utah Department of Health said.

The church issued the following general guidelines for its members as they return to church services, meetings and activities:

  • Use an abundance of caution in protecting the health and safety of members. Pay particular attention to members whose health or age puts them at high risk.
  • Advise individuals who do not feel well, who have been asked to self-quarantine or who exhibit any of the following symptoms that they should not attend meetings: fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, runny nose or sore throat.
  • Follow social distancing, handwashing and other practices described in “Preventative Measures for Members.”
  • Follow government regulations in each location regarding public gatherings, including meeting size, frequency and duration. Please apply government regulations.
  • Please return to regular practices slowly, continuing to function remotely using technology while beginning in-person meetings in a phased approach, as described above Priority for in-person gatherings should be given to meetings during which ordinances are performed, such as baptisms and sacrament meetings.

A spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the timeline for when phase one will begin in Utah is undetermined at this time and will be at the discretion of local church leaders.

Click here to read the complete notice from the church.