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SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time in Utah, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has closed one of its temples amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bountiful Temple was added to the list by the church over the weekend, marking 88 closures worldwide, according to the Church Newsroom. In total, 13 temples were added to the list Sunday.
“The Church is monitoring developments and taking steps to comply with best practices and direction provided by public health organizations of various national governments,” read the initial statement regarding the effects of the virus on church membership worldwide.
Bountiful is far from the only United States-based temple to be closed. Temple locales such as Detroit, Los Angeles and Manhattan have, among others, also been shuttered.
On March 13, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced significant changes to temple worship that went into immediate effect during the pandemic. Such changes include the temporary suspension of ordinances for non-living persons, or what the church refers to as “vicarious” or “proxy work,” as well as ordinances for living persons by appointment only to help minimize the spread of the virus.
The church also issued a reminder Sunday to all parents of returning missionaries regarding the need to self-quarantine in the coming weeks. That includes a group of around 1,600 missionaries that returned to Salt Lake City International Airport on Sunday to a large gathering of parents, siblings and other family members awaiting them in the adjacent parking garage.
“Parents and guardians should go to the airport alone to meet a returning missionary and practice safe social distancing while there,” a church statement read. “That way, the missionary is able to properly begin self-isolation. Upon returning home, missionaries should strictly allow the self-isolation recommendations from the CDC, which include limiting contact with others and avoiding leaving their homes for any reason.
“They are encouraged to stay in a well-ventilated room, preferably alone. If that isn’t possible, the missionary should stay six feet away from others in the room. They should use good hygiene and regularly wash their hands. If a missionary develops any symptoms of a respiratory illness, they should contact a local health provider.”
Parents, please go to the airport alone to pick up your returning missionaries, and help them strictly follow all self-isolation procedures for their first 14 days at home.— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) March 23, 2020
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued a call to Latter-day Saint parents to pay strict attention to the church's instructions.
“As missionaries return home due to the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, they should not be met by big groups of family or friends,” Herbert wrote on Twitter. “Large welcome parties are dangerous and could greatly increase the spread of coronavirus in our state.
“Parents, please go to the airport alone to pick up your returning missionaries, and help them strictly follow all self-isolation procedures for their first 14 days at home.”
Really disappointed in the behavior we saw from missionary families at the SLC airport tonight. I get it, I’ve been there (and still have a child serving), but this is unacceptable. In a time of shared sacrifice, we must do better to save lives. #SocialDistancing— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) March 23, 2020
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox agreed, both as leader of the state's coronavirus task force and the father of a currently serving missionary.
“Really disappointed in the behavior we saw from missionary families at the SLC airport tonight,” Cox wrote on Twitter. “I get it, I’ve been there (and still have a child serving), but this is unacceptable.
“In a time of shared sacrifice, we must do better to save lives.”