Latter-day Saint temples may begin to remove face-mask requirement, other COVID-19 precautions
First Presidency says increase in vaccinations is paving the way for return to full temple operations around the world, but local circumstances will be monitored.
Latter-day Saint temples will begin to eliminate the use of face masks and other COVID-19 pandemic precautions based on local circumstances, the First Presidency announced Tuesday in a letter to church leaders around the world.
“We are eager to return the temples to full operation as soon as possible,” the letter said. “Now that more people are immunized, we are pleased to announce that temples throughout the world will gradually return to more normal operations, including the elimination of face masks and capacity restrictions.”
When temples began to reopen on a limited basis in May 2020 after the start of the pandemic, church leaders required masks. The First Presidency reiterated the need for masks in temples in September 2021 during a surge in COVID-19 cases, but said the policy was temporary and would be “rescinded as soon as circumstances permit.”
In January, church leaders asked members to schedule temple appointments well in advance to help deal with the surge in omicron variant cases.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has followed a four-step protocol for returning each temple to full operations. Today, 169 of the church’s 170 temples are operating at the highest level within pandemic guidelines, which is level three. None have yet reached level four, which is normal operations.
COVID-19 infections have dropped precipitously in the United States, where 254 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine, the CDC reported.
More than 81.5% of Americans over age 5 have received one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC.
Worldwide, more than 10.7 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered, according to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 dashboard.
The WHO says that 56% of the world’s population is fully vaccinated.
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent the following letter to church leaders around the world.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Thank you for your patience during restricted temple operations that occurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are eager to return the temples to full operation as soon as possible. Now that more people are immunized, we are pleased to announce that temples throughout the world will gradually return to more normal operations, including the elimination of face masks and capacity restrictions.
Based on local circumstances, the return to normal operations for each temple will be made by the temple presidencies and Area Presidencies in consultation with the Temple Department. Temple presidencies are invited to prepare plans to return temples to full capacity.
We are grateful for the sacred work performed in temples. We trust that our members will rejoice in the lessening of restrictions and will increase their commitment to temple and family history work.
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring