All sessions of the April 2020 General Conference will be held without the usual crowds in attendance at the Conference Center, according to a letter from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles released Wednesday morning.
In the letter, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they hope to prevent further spread of COVID-19. “We have counseled with worldwide governmental, ecclesiastical and medical leaders and have prayerfully considered the current circumstances,” the letter reads. “We want to be good global citizens and do what we can to control this contagious illness.”
General Authorities, their spouses, necessary technicians, the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and all its musicians will still attend General Conference in the Conference Center.
Those with tickets for any of the conference sessions will not be admitted into the Conference Center. “Proceedings of the conference will be distributed throughout the world via technology only,” the letter said.
Leaders will also not permit public gatherings “in stake centers or meetinghouses in areas where contagion is a concern.”
The Church is also postponing all “large gatherings,” including stake conferences and leadership meetings in areas affected by the outbreak, including Asia, Asia North, Europe, Europe East and all areas in the United States and Canada. Weekly worship services will continue, although local leaders in some areas of Europe and Asia have already opted to reduce Sunday worship services to one hour instead of two.
The announcement was made the same day the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic.
Wendy Richhart has an Air BnB in Murray, and she had a Canadian family booked for General Conference weekend. She learned about the announcement from her guests. “I got a message from my guest saying, ‘We’re cancelling because they won’t let us into conference so there’s no reason to come,'” she said. She’s had an Air BnB since November, and was fully booked in March. “Now, we have no other bookings after April,” she said.
Richhart also had her stake conference cancelled. It was set to be held at the end of March. “That’s got all of us teachers scrambling ’cause we weren’t planning on teaching,” she said.