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First Presidency announces temples to ‘gradually return’ to normal operations

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President Russell M. Nelson, the 17th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sits with his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor (left), and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor (right), at a press conference in Salt Lake City Utah on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News


“We are eager to return the temples to full operation as soon as possible,” President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring wrote in a March 15 letter. “Now that more people are immunized, we are pleased to announce that temples throughout the world will gradually return to more normal operations, including the elimination of face masks and capacity restrictions.” 

The return to normal operations for each temple will be based on local circumstances and decisions will be made by the temple presidency and area presidency, in consultation with the Church’s Temple Department.

In the letter — sent to general and local Church leaders, including temple presidencies — the First Presidency thanked members for their patience during the restricted temple operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are grateful for the sacred work performed in temples,” concluded the letter, published online at ChurchofJesusChrist.org. “We trust that our members will rejoice in the lessening of restrictions and will increase their commitment to temple and family history work.”

Two years of pandemic-period adjustments

The letter comes nearly two full years after the Church closed all of its temples worldwide in late March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, all but one of the Church’s 170 dedicated temples have returned to offering all living and proxy ordinances, but at limited capacity for patrons.

After the March 2020 temple closures, the Church began to reopen its temples seven weeks later, advancing their operations in a careful and cautious four-phase plan that has continued since.

Phase 1 allows for limited living husband-and-wife sealings by appointment, while Phase 2 allows for those sealing as well as all other living ordinances, also by appointment. Phase 2-B offers all living ordinances and proxy baptisms, by appointment. Phase 3 includes everything from the first two phases and the performance of temple ordinances for deceased individuals.

Latest temple updates: All but 1 of Church’s 170 dedicated temples offering all living, proxy ordinances

As of March 15, the breakdown of its 170 dedicated temples is:

  • 160 operating in Phase 3
  • 0 operating in Phase 2-B
  • 0 operating in Phase 2
  • 1 operating in Phase 1
  • 1 paused/suspended in Phase 3
  • 8 closed for major renovations, with all 8 districts designated as Phase 3

Closures and reopenings

Since early May 2020, the Church has announced weekly which temples will be moving to Phase 1, 2 or 3 status the following week.

On Feb. 21 and 22, 2020, four temples in the Church’s Asia and Asia North areas closed because of the developing pandemic. By the end of that month, 24 temples had closed.

By March 24, 2020, a month after the first closures, the number of pandemic-closed temples had reached 111. A day later, the First Presidency announced the closure of all operating temples worldwide.

Temples remained closed for six weeks, until the First Presidency announced “a carefully coordinated, cautious and phased reopening of temples” on May 7, 2020. Less than a week later, on May 11, a group of 17 temples became the first to open in Phase 1, offering limited living husband-and-wife sealings by appointment.

Temple reopening status tracker — through March 15

In a July 20, 2020 letter, the First Presidency announced both changes to the temple endowment ceremony and the start of reopened temples to move to Phase 2. Seven days later, on July 27, the first 12 temples being upgraded to Phase 2 began performing once again all living temple ordinances, by appointment.

On Dec. 7, 2020, the First Presidency identified four temples as the first to advance to Phase 3 of the Church’s four-phase reopening plan as early as Dec. 21, 2020. On that Dec. 21 date, the Taipei Taiwan Temple was the first to have proxy ordinances joining living ordinances as being performed on a limited basis.

On March 15, 2021, the First Presidency announced the first 13 temples to move to Phase 2-B later that month. The new phase designation expands the Phase 2 allowance for all living ordinances with proxy baptisms, with the temple baptistry open for small groups — particularly for members with limited-use recommends.

As of July 2021, all of the Church’s operating temples have reopened after the pandemic closures, although attendance remains limited because of pandemic precautions. On July 5, the Kyiv Ukraine Temple was the final temple to reopen.

Four phases of reopening

The four phases of the Church’s reopening plan are:

  • Phase 1: Open for restricted living sealings only. Temple workers will perform living sealings only for previously endowed members, with the ordinances done under strict guidelines and safety precautions.
  • Phase 2: Open for all living ordinances only. Temple workers will perform all temple ordinances for living individuals, but temples will maintain closure of patron housing, clothing and cafeteria operations.
  • Phase 2-B: Open for all living ordinances and proxy baptisms. The temple baptistry is open for small groups — particularly for members with limited-use recommends.
  • Phase 3: Open for all ordinances with restrictions. Temple workers will continue providing ordinances for living individuals and provide proxy ordinances for ancestors in a restricted manner. The Church may open patron housing, clothing and cafeteria operations as needed.
  • Phase 4: Open for full operations. The Church will resume regular temple operations.

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