SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will temporarily suspend work done in its temples on behalf of others and limit personal work "as capacity permits by appointment only," according to a Friday news release.
The church also changed the schedule for the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, canceling some performances and limiting others to broadcast-only, a second news release reads.
It was announced Saturday that The Joseph Smith Memorial Building and Lion House will no longer be open to the public. The restaurants are also now closed.
Because of the spread of COVID-19, some governments have placed restrictions that required the church to close certain temples for the time being.
"As we have prayerfully sought to balance these limitations with the need to carry on temple work, we have decided to make the following temporary adjustments, which are effective March 16, 2020 for all temples around the world.
- Where government or other restrictions on public and/or religious gatherings would, in effect, preclude temple activity, proxy and living ordinances will temporarily be suspended.
- Where government or other restrictions do not preclude all temple activity, the following temple ordinances for living persons will be accommodated as capacity permits by appointment only: husband-and-wife and child-to-parents sealing ordinances and living initiatory and endowment ordinances. On a temporary basis, proxy temple ordinances will not be performed.
- All patron housing will be closed."
In Latter-day Saint temples, members in good standing may enter and participate in ordinances for themselves — called "living ordinances" — as well as ordinances on behalf of those who have died — called "by proxy."
The church has suspended all ordinances done "by proxy" and only those who either make or already have an appointment can participate in "living ordinances." In areas where temples are still open, members planning to be married can rest assured that the temple will be open for their ceremony.
Temples in Utah are still open for these appointments.
"Church members will be provided with instructions when they schedule their appointments for living ordinances. Individuals with currently scheduled appointments will be contacted by temple staff," the news release reads. "Steps will be taken in all temples to minimize the risk of spreading disease, including reducing temple staff, limiting guests at living ordinances, and following guidelines for interacting with patrons."
Tabernacle Choir changes
The church announced Thursday that it would suspend all church services and large public gatherings indefinitely. In accordance with that change, the faith also announced adjustments to concerts performed by its choir and orchestra.
Beginning Sunday, “Music and the Spoken Word” will be limited to broadcasts only and will not be open to the public in the Conference Center in Salt Lake. The same holds true for the choir's weekly Thursday rehearsals and the weekly bells rehearsals on Wednesdays.
The Spring Chorale and Orchestra Concert on March 20 and 21 is canceled and will not be rescheduled.
The choir and orchestra's performance of Handel's Messiah, scheduled for April 10 and 11, is canceled — though the 2018 performance will be streamed and broadcast on the same days.
"This will permit a performance of this beloved oratorio — an Easter tradition for so many — to be available in homes and areas where public events can still be held," the news release says.
Gov. Gary Herbert announced a limit to public gatherings of more than 100 people Thursday, of which the choir's performance would have been one.
More information on the choir and orchestra's Handel's Messiah performance will be available online at tabchoir.org/Messiah.
Temple Square changes
Construction work on the Salt Lake City Temple will continue as scheduled, but public areas of multiple church-owned facilities in and around Temple Square had been closed as of Friday at 5 p.m.
Additionally, operations at Welfare Square will stay open, but public tours are temporarily discontinued going forward, church officials said.
Public areas in the following buildings will remain closed indefinitely.
- Conference Center
- Assembly Hall
- North Visitors’ Center
- Family History Library
- Church History Museum
- Relief Society Building
- Church Office Building
- Beehive House
- Church History Library