SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced policy changes to the Conference Center on Sept. 28, including that security will no longer store personal items and North Temple will be temporarily closed before and after General Conference sessions.
Previously, the Conference Center would store personal items like large bags, suitcases and food, for conference attendees. Starting with the 188th Semiannual General Conference on Oct. 6-7, conference attendees will be asked to return any prohibited items to their cars or hotel rooms.
During a press conference on Sept. 28, David Miles, director of event services for church headquarters, said the changes comes to secure the Conference Center and make it easier to get in and out.
“Our security team is really top notch, and they study best practices all over the world, and they’ve come to us with these suggestions, and we support them wholeheartedly,” Miles said. “We think it will make the event much more secure and much easier for our patrons to get in and out of.”
Clear water bottles, purses and small bags are permitted in the Conference Center. If attendees bring large bags, backpacks, suitcases, food items, shopping bags or metal containers, security will ask them to secure the items off property.
Charles Andersen, managing director of headquarter facilities for the church, said he thinks the clear bag policy recently implemented at LaVell Edwards Stadium is a “great policy” but isn’t sure if it will one day be implemented at the Conference Center.
“We’ll see where the future takes us,” Andersen said. “Right now, we have the ability to do what we do with the volunteers and security with the small bags and small items and clear bottles.”
The church also announced the temporary closure of North Temple between East Temple and Main Street two hours before and after each session of conference. North Temple will reopen with one east and one west lane while conference is in session.
Andersen said the main goal of restricting North Temple is to keep pedestrians safe.
“As we look at what’s happening throughout the world, we want to make sure that we provide a safe venue and protect patrons who are coming,” Andersen said. “We just make sure we do everything we can in our power.”
The closure of North Temple will also apply to major events at the Conference Center besides General Conference, including the annual Christmas concert.
“We have a wonderful opportunity to invite the world to this venue, and if we can make it safer, we will all enjoy the event much more,” Miles said.
In previous years, the Conference Center would be open for tours until about three days prior to Conference, Miles said. However, the Conference Center will now be closed for about a week prior to each General Conference weekend. For the 188th Semiannual General Conference, the Conference Center will be closed starting on Monday, Oct. 1.
“We found that we wanted to do a more thorough searching of the building and make sure that every aspect of it, not just the seating area, but all the offices, all the storage areas were clear,” Miles said. “We just needed more time.”