SALT LAKE CITY — Nonnative Latter-day Saint missionaries serving in 23 missions in the Philippines are heading back to their home countries for reassignment.
“With a new travel directive from the Philippines government, and due to a general disruption to their ability to carry out their service, all missionaries who are not native to the Philippines are being moved out of that country,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in a statement on Tuesday. “These missionaries will return to their home countries for new temporary assignments. They will begin their new assignments after completing a 14-day period of self-isolation at home as a precaution.”
The church previously sent home all nonnative missionaries from Mongolia on Feb. 27 and from South Korea on March 5.
The church also previously shut down its Hong Kong Mission.
The parents of Elder Connor Webster, 20, of Gilbert, Arizona, received their son’s homecoming travel plans last week, since he is nearly three months from completing his 24-month mission. His release date is June 24, said his father, David Webster.
Elder Webster has been serving in the Philippines Olongapo Mission, said his mother, Laurie Webster.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte announced a strict home quarantine on Monday for half the population, saying the the country and its 58 million people are “in the fight of our lives.” He said the measures were meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.
An official memo from the Department of Transportation said foreigners living in the Philippines needed to leave within 72 hours — by Thursday, GMA News Online reported. All airports were to close at the end of that time period, a spokesperson added.
David Webster said he received an email from his son’s mission president in the middle of the night Tuesday saying that the church was sending his son home to comply with the government decree.
However, on Tuesday a cabinet secretary said foreigners will be able to leave at any time during the enhanced quarantine, according to ABS-CBN News.
The Websters spoke to their son on Sunday night and he was not bothered by news that the missionaries would be quarantined in their apartments.