The Church is taking cautionary steps against the Coronavirus, including discouraging international travel to the April 2020 General Conference, postponing or reassigning missionaries to certain countries and adjusting Sunday and temple worship schedules in high-risk areas.
“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,” reads an official statement released on Feb. 27. “These steps are being taken to comply with best practices or direction provided by the public health organizations of various national governments.”
The Church discouraged members living outside the U.S. from traveling to Salt Lake for April’s General Conference, but the First Presidency of the Church expressed its gratitude for technology that allows members worldwide to view the conference even if they cannot attend in person.
Leadership sessions for General Authorities, Area Seventies and General Officers previously scheduled for April were postponed until October, when the next General Conference will take place. “General Authorities serving outside of the United States and all Area Seventies are excused from attending the General Conference in Salt Lake City,” the official statement reads.
The Church has also directed changes in 13 missions across Japan, Cambodia, Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Mongolia. Some missionaries, especially senior missionaries who are more susceptible to the coronavirus due to their age, are being reassigned. Others are being sent home early with instruction to self-isolate for at least two weeks following their return. Prospective missionaries will either postpone their start date or receive a temporary assignment in a different location.
Four temples in Taiwan, Korea and Japan have been temporarily closed as a precaution to protect all members, especially temple workers of ages especially susceptible to the coronavirus.
Some regions in Hong Kong, Mongolia, Korea and Japan have temporarily shortened or canceled Sunday worship services under the direction of local Church leaders.
Since its initial donations of medical supplies to China, the Church has also received numerous requests for similar assistance. According to the Church, those requests are being evaluated and addressed, but its ability to fulfill them is limited by global demand.
“With great compassion, we pray for all whose lives have been affected by this illness,” the First Presidency said in a statement.