The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will now require congregants to wear masks inside Mormon temples.
In an announcement on Wednesday, church leaders encouraged fellow Mormons to get vaccinated while emphasizing that the new rules will be only temporary.
“As cases of COVID-19 increase in many areas, we want to do everything possible to allow temples to remain open,” the church said in a statement, as reported by the Associated Press. “Therefore, effective immediately, all temple patrons and workers are asked to wear face masks at all times while in the temple.”
The announcement follows a letter published by the LDS First Presidency in August urging Mormons to wear masks “in public meetings” when social distancing is not a possibility while encouraging followers to get vaccinated:
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
We find ourselves fighting a war against the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants, an unrelenting pandemic. We want to do all we can to limit the spread of these viruses. We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.
To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.
We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders. Please know of our sincere love and great concern for all of God’s children.
The First Presidency
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring
According to The Hill, in the state of Utah, where the church is headquartered, coronavirus cases escalated throughout the summer months as vaccination rates steadily increased, with the Utah health department recently stating that unvaccinated residents are 5.9 times more likely to die from the virus and 7.2 times more likely to be hospitalized.
“State data shows that 64 percent of Utah residents over the age of 12 have been vaccinated against COVID-19, about the same rate as a poll of Latter-day Saints in August, which found 65% of respondents had received at least one vaccine dose,” noted The Hill.
Since the start of the pandemic, roughly 2,841 people have died from coronavirus in the state of Utah, according to the current state data, along with 21,600 hospitalizations.
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