LDS Church closes temples, quarantines missions and more

The Seoul South Korea temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of those temporarily closed due to precautions over the COVID-19 virus outbreak. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday the further closure of temples and additional missionary quarantines in response to the coronavirus.

The announcement came just hours after the church’s First Presidency announced its April general conference two-day leadership meetings will be postponed, also due to the continuing spread of the virus.

The church’s updated late-Thursday press release states the church “has been carefully monitoring these developments and is taking steps in several areas to provide assistance, help missionaries be safe and effective, address concerns regarding member safety and plan for upcoming events. These steps are being taken to comply with best practices or direction provided by the public health organizations of various national governments.”

With agencies, governments and organizations monitoring health conditions around the world due to COVID-19, the church announced the following changes to missionary work, temples and worship services in areas especially affected in the world:

Missionary work

The church is taking steps to reduce the number of missionaries in areas where the virus is of particular concern.

These steps will give mission presidents more flexibility to ensure missionaries are effective and safe and that there is adequate space to house missionaries if they are moved out of cities where there are greater concerns about infection, the church said.

These steps apply to the following missions:

Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission.

Japan Fukuoka Mission.

Japan Kobe Mission.

Japan Nagoya Mission.

Japan Sapporo Mission.

Japan Tokyo North Mission.

Japan Tokyo South Mission.

Korea Busan Mission.

Korea Seoul Mission.

Korea Seoul South Mission.

Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission.

Singapore Mission.

Thailand Bangkok Mission.

“Cambodia, Korea, Singapore, Thailand: All prospective missionaries preparing to serve in these missions or who come from those countries will either postpone their start date or receive a temporary assignment,” the press release said. “Additionally, all missionaries currently serving in these missions who are nearing the end of their service will return home early. All senior missionaries and any young missionaries with chronic health problems will also return home or be temporarily reassigned to a mission in their home countries.”

Some senior missionaries will continue to support the mission remotely.

Japan: All missionaries preparing to serve in Japan will either postpone their start date or receive new temporary assignments.

Mongolia: All missionaries who are not native to Mongolia will be temporarily transferred from that country. Those who are nearing their scheduled release date will return home early, while the rest will receive new temporary assignments.

“Each missionary who returns home will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days following instructions from the World Health Organization and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the church.

Missionaries who remain in those countries will take precautions to stay healthy, including staying in their apartments as much as possible, avoiding personal interaction with other people and teaching through phone calls or other technology.

All missionaries, regardless of where they are serving, have been reminded to follow basic preventative health practices to avoid illness. It is important to note that young missionaries are not generally considered to be at risk for serious complications from the coronavirus, the press release said.

Temple worship

The church has also announced the closure of several temples because of concern for the workers and patrons.

“A large number of temple workers and patrons are from an older demographic, which has a higher susceptibility to complications from the coronavirus. These closures are in accordance with the recommendations of local public health agencies,” the press release said.

The following temples have been temporarily closed:

Taipei Taiwan Temple.

Seoul Korea Temple.

Fukuoka Japan Temple.

Sapporo Japan Temple.

(Previously closed for renovation)

Hong Kong China Temple.

Tokyo Japan Temple.

Worship services

Under the direction of Area Presidencies, some regions of the church have limited or temporarily suspended member gatherings, including Sunday worship. These locations include the following:

Hong Kong.

Mongolia.

Korea.

Japan.

According to the church, this includes shortened Sunday worship in some areas or canceling worship services in others. In circumstances where members are unable to gather for worship, they learn, teach and partake of the sacrament (communion in other churches) as families, as guided by local priesthood leaders.

Providing aid

Since its initial donation of medical masks, goggles and gowns to China, the church has received numerous requests for similar assistance. Those requests are being evaluated and addressed as the church is able to do so, “although our ability to supply and deliver those products is limited by a global demand for such resources,” a church press release said.

“We are grateful for the many expressions of support and concern that have been shared. The Church will continue to follow developments closely and make any further adjustments as needed. We continue to pray for all those impacted by the virus,” the church statement said.

On Friday during the World Health Organization press briefing they update global figures on the virus. There are more than 83,700 confirmed cases and at least 2,859 deaths so far.

In recent weeks, the virus has spread substantially beyond China and is now circulating in over 44 countries across the world, WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the press briefing. Epidemics have emerged in Iran, Italy and South Korea, where the number of cases are rapidly rising every day.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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