Two days before Utah lifts the statewide mask mandate, local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were assigned to develop plans to return to all regular Church services and activities.
The Utah Area Presidency sent a letter to stake presidents, who each oversee multiple branches, on Thursday, asking them to take responsibility for how Church members resume regular meetings in their areas.
“As the number of Utah infections continues to decline and vaccinations increase significantly, we are getting closer to a time when we can return to our normal Church meetings and activities,” the letter said.
Utah’s pandemic “endgame bill,” signed into law in March, ends the state’s mask mandate on Saturday. One city and province have decided to continue the mask mandate. Salt Lake City called in emergency forces on Wednesday to continue to demand face coverings in public. Grand County said masks are mandatory until June 15.
Thursday’s letter stated that 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 stake return to personal Church meetings and activities for all organizations.”
The letter directs local leaders to follow the area’s health guidelines and safety protocols, including masks and standoffs, continue broadcasting Sunday services, and provide ways for certain members to administer the sacrament at home, and continue with virtual lessons from the second hour or come together in larger rooms if they think it is best.
Masks will remain mandatory for schools in Utah through June.
Utah’s endgame law ends all other COVID-19 restrictions when the state hits three benchmarks: a two-week COVID-19 case of less than 191 per 100,000; less than 15% of beds in the intensive care unit are occupied by COVID-19 patients; and state receipt of at least 1.63 million vaccinations. In earlier versions of those invoices, those benchmarks had lower thresholds.
The law will end COVID-19 restrictions at the state and local levels effective July 1, even if those benchmarks are not met.
Utah reported 483 new cases Thursday, 10.3% of the highest total number of reported cases on Dec. 31.
Utah has administered a total of 1,603,855 vaccines.
Here is the full letter from the Utah Area Presidency:
We are deeply grateful for the leadership of stake presidents, bishops, and others in the Utah region who developed plans and implemented guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic to enable our members to live at home and in the Church in safe and compliant ways. to worship. As infections continue to decline in Utah and vaccinations increase significantly, we are getting closer to a time when we can return to our normal Church meetings and activities.
In consultation with senior Church leaders and bearing in mind the warnings below, we now ask stake presidents, in consultation with bishops and others, to develop plans and take responsibility for how members in their stake return to personal Church meetings and activities for all organizations.
Follow all guidelines from state and local government agencies and continue to follow applicable safety guidelines and protocols, including masks and standoffs, as determined by stake presidencies.
Continue to broadcast Sunday worship services as directed by the First Presidency and provide ways for certain members to administer the sacrament at home.
Stake presidencies can continue with second-hour virtual classes (especially when multiple wards converge in the same building and meeting times overlap), congregate in larger rooms, or implement other secure options.
The Utah Area Presidency