In the wake of an international viral outbreak, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is taking action by way of even more precautions than those announced around the upcoming General Conference.
With a global missionary force in nearly every country of the world, protecting those missionaries in the face of crises of conflict or public health often becomes a prime directive. So it’s no surprise these newly announced precautions as a response to the COVID-19 or coronavirus show that in an overabundance of caution, the Church is delaying (or reassigning) what amounts to hundreds, if not thousands of missionaries from embarking on their church service.
Other temporary decisions, changes, and adjustments for the safety of members and the response to relief efforts will also take effect. In a recent post on the Church’s newsroom, the Church has released the following statement:
Recent concern regarding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) has generated much public attention and has caused significant change in travel, personal interactions and in guidelines prescribed by health officials for how to address the growing concern.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 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.
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.
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
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. 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.
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.
Several temples have been closed 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 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
Under the direction of Area Presidencies, some regions have limited or temporarily suspended member gatherings, including Sunday worship. These locations include the following:
This has included shortened Sunday worship in some areas (sacrament meeting only) or canceling of worship services in others. In circumstances where members are unable to gather for worship, they learn, teach and partake of the sacrament as families, as guided by local priesthood leaders.
In a recent announcement to all Church members, the First Presidency has provided new guidelines for participation in General Conference.
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.
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.
We can only pray that the world’s nations band together to stop further outbreak, both for everyone’s physical health, but also for the spreading of the gospel.