The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the phased reopening of some temples.
On May 7, the Church said 17 temples in Utah, Idaho, Germany and Sweden would be opening on May 11 for live sealings of previously endowed members. On May 11, that number was doubled to 34 temples, including the Seoul Korea Taiwan Taipei temples. These temples will reopen starting May 18.
“With profound gratitude to our Heavenly Father that He has heard our prayers, we rejoice in announcing a careful, phased reopening of temples,” says a letter from the First Presidency sent to all Church members.
Prior to the announcement, many members were civilly married or planning a civil marriage because temples were closed. Now members can make appointments for sealings.
BYU student David McFarland and his wife were married civilly in his mom’s backyard on April 3. They are planning to be sealed when more restrictions are lifted and his wife’s family, which currently lives in England, can attend.
“We’re already married and in a stable condition, so there isn’t a rush to get it done,” McFarland said. “I feel secure that we will make those covenants when the world has returned to a more normal state.”
Pleasant Grove resident Mary Kate Dickey was in the middle of planning her wedding when the announcement was made. She had planned a civil ceremony for May 22, but she and her fiance, Garrett Southam, now have an appointment to be sealed on the same date in the Provo City Center Temple. “Every week there are new changes and different plans,” she said. “I feel like I’ve gone through a roller coaster of emotions.”
Dickey and her fiance can invite six other people to the sealing and decided to just invite their parents. “I think it will be a very special experience. We’ve both been hoping to get married in the temple our whole lives, so this is such a blessing.”
Temple workers were also surprised and excited about the announcement. BYU student Luiza Pradera serves in the Provo Utah Temple as an ordinance worker and hasn’t been asked to come back to the temple yet. So far Pradera has only received one email from the temple asking about her availability to work.
“I wasn’t expecting (the temple) to open anytime soon, but it was a happy surprise,” Pradera said.
While Pradera isn’t scheduled to work soon, she said she wonders what precautions the temple will take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 now that it is open.
According to the Church’s press release, temple visitors will be allowed to wear a mask and gloves and encouraged to wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing. The temples will also have hand sanitizer throughout the buildings, and workers will clean and sanitize each room after use. “Each temple presidency will take extra precautions to help protect temple workers and patrons,” the statement says.
Along with the announcement that temples would be open for sealings, the Church also laid out its four phase plan about opening temples. Live sealings by appointment with strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is the first phase. Phase two will allow members to participate in all living ordinances, and phase three will open the temples for proxy ordinances with some restrictions. Temples will be fully operational in the final phase of the Church’s plan.
The Church plans to open other temples when local health directives allow. As more temples open, each temple will start at phase one of the plan and only administer live sealings.