On Friday, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it will temporarily suspend both proxy and living ordinances in some temples worldwide and allow only limited living ordinances in other temples worldwide, due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
“Rapidly changing health conditions around the world have been a source of growing concern,” the First Presidency’s letter said. “Many governments have placed restrictions that have required the temporary closure of a number of temples. 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.”
The First Presidency listed the following changes:
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.
The letter said 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.
“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,” the First Presidency said.
Additional information will be provided to temple presidencies, and further adjustments will be made as necessary, according to the letter.
“We look forward with great anticipation to the time when temples can again operate at full capacity and extend the blessings of temple work to members and their ancestors,” the First Presidency said.
This announcement follows a day after it was announced that church services globally have been temporarily canceled.
Earlier in the week it was announced that all five sessions of the April General Conference will not allow attendance at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Only General Authorities, their spouses, choirs and technicians will be allowed in the Conference Center.
Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square
Consistent with the direction provided by the church to temporarily postpone large public gatherings in areas challenged by the COVID-19 virus, the Tabernacle Choir has canceled several concerts and made changes to its public broadcasts and rehearsals.
“You will still be able to watch and listen to Music & the Spoken Word broadcasts, but not attend in person,” a church statement said. “The scheduled Messiah concert on Easter weekend by the Choir and Orchestra will not be live, but you can still enjoy this world-famous oratorio via an internet stream and satellite broadcast. The spring concert by the Chorale and Orchestra is cancelled.”
Temporary changes include the closure of various events to the public including “Music and the Spoken Word,” Thursday Choir rehearsals in the Tabernacle and the Wednesday Bells rehearsals in the Tabernacle. The Spring Chorale and Orchestra concert scheduled for March 20-21 has been canceled and will not be rescheduled. The Choir and Orchestra concert of Handel’s Messiah has been canceled, but a live stream of the 2018 event will be available over church satellite systems on April 10-11. Daily organ recitals in the Tabernacle will be suspended as of Sunday.
Other LDS property closures
On Friday afternoon, the church announced closures to all public areas of church-owned buildings in and around Temple Square will, effective 5 p.m. on Friday, March 13. The closures include the Conference Center, Assembly Hall, Tabernacle, North Visitors’ Center, Family History Library, Church History Museum, Relief Society Building, Church Office Building, Beehive House, and Church History Library. The closures will remain in effect until further notice.
The construction work on the Salt Lake Temple will continue as planned. At Welfare Square, operations will remain open, but public tours are temporarily discontinued going forward.