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Coronavirus: Seattle Washington Temple Becomes First in the US to Close, Additional Missions Affected

by | Mar. 06, 2020

► Related content: The Church and Coronavirus: A Timeline of News Releases and Media Coverage

Editor's note: On Friday, the Church published additional information on missionaries leaving Korea in the wake of COVID-19. The Church also announced the closure of the Seattle Washington Temple and adjustments to member gatherings in the Seattle, Washington area. On Sunday, the Church announced adjustments to meetings in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy. The full press release is below. 

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. 

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. 

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, 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.

Korea: All missionaries who are not native to Korea will leave that country and return home before departing for new temporary assignments in their home countries. This is in addition to those missionaries who were nearing the end of their service and those who had chronic health problems, who have already returned home early. All missionaries leaving the country have already been in self-isolation for some time and have avoided contact with others outside their apartments. Prospective missionaries preparing to serve in Korea or who come from that country will either postpone their start date or receive a temporary assignment.

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. 

Temple Worship

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:

  • Fukuoka Japan Temple
  • Rome Italy Temple
  • Seoul Korea Temple
  • Sapporo Japan Temple
  • Seattle Washington Temple (The governor of Washington has requested that no large gatherings take place.)
  • Taipei Taiwan Temple


(Previously closed for renovation)

  • Hong Kong China Temple
  • Tokyo Japan Temple


Worship Services

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

  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Seattle, Washington area (Due to the Governor’s request that no large gatherings be held, no stake conferences or priesthood leadership councils will be held. Smaller gatherings, such as a sacrament meeting, are continuing in some areas. Members should follow the counsel of their local priesthood leaders.)
  • Mongolia
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • U.K.

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. 

As our members around the world meet and interact with one another, we ask them to be mindful of current circumstances and to be considerate of their health and that of others. Those who live in areas where there is significant spread of COVID-19 should follow the guidance offered by the public health agencies in their region. This may include basic precautions or significant restrictions on travel or public gatherings. Church members should comply with all such guidelines under the direction of their area presidency. Area medical advisors are asked to provide counsel to area presidencies based on the information and guidance provided by public health agencies in their area.

For all Church members, there is wisdom in taking steps to remain healthy during this cold and flu season. These precautions include*:

  • Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick (this may include avoiding shaking hands or other customary greetings).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Maintain at least three feet (one meter) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow public health agency recommendations for using a face mask.

*Based on recommendations from the World Health Organization and United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Local leaders should encourage members to follow these guidelines. They should also counsel with their area presidency to determine when stronger steps should be taken (such as limiting or canceling Church meetings). Those decisions should be made in consultation with area medical advisors.

Church Workforce

Employees of the Church should follow the guidelines provided here and any other direction provided by their area presidency.

General Conference

In a recent announcement to all Church members, the First Presidency has provided new guidelines for participation in General Conference. 

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. 

Summary 

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.

Lead image: Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 
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