COVID-19 vaccinations bring Utah Latter-day Saints ‘closer’ to normal church activities

COVID-19 vaccinations bring Utah Latter-day Saints ‘closer’ to normal church activities - Deseret News Get ready for the end of “home church.”

COVID-19 vaccinations bring Utah Latter-day Saints ‘closer’ to normal church activities Photo

Two days before Utah’s statewide mask mandate lifts, local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been instructed to begin developing plans to return to all regular church worship and activities.

The Utah Area Presidency sent a letter Thursday to stake presidents, who each oversee multiple congregations, asking them to take responsibility for how church members in their areas restart regular gatherings.

“As infection rates in Utah continue to decrease and vaccinations significantly increase, we are getting closer to a time when we can return to our normal church meetings and activities,” the letter stated.

Utah’s pandemic “endgame bill,” signed into law in March, ends the state’s mask mandate on Saturday. One city and county have decided to continue the mask mandate. Salt Lake City invoked emergency powers on Wednesday to continue requiring face coverings in public. Grand County said masks will be mandatory until June 15.

Thursday’s letter said the Utah Area Presidency had consulted with senior church leaders — a term used for the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — and considered health guidelines.

“We now ask stake presidents, in consultation with bishops and others, to develop plans and take responsibility for how members in their stakes return to in-person church meetings and activities for all organizations.”

The letter directs local leaders to follow area health guidelines and safety protocols, including masks and distancing, continue to broadcast Sunday worship services and provide ways for certain members to administer the sacrament in their homes, and continue virtual second-hour classes or congregate in larger spaces if they feel it is best.

Utah’s endgame law halts all other COVID-19 restrictions when the state reaches three benchmarks: a two-week COVID-19 case rate of less than 191 per 100,000; fewer than 15% of intensive care unit beds occupied by COVID-19 patients; and reception by the state of at least 1.63 million vaccinations. In earlier versions of those bills, those benchmarks had lower thresholds.

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