1 year ago: First Presidency announced ‘gradual return’ to normal temple operations

The Church closed all temples worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then instituted a 4-phase plan to cautiously reopen them over the next 2 years

One year has passed since the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that temples worldwide would “gradually return” to normal operations after two years of closures, restrictions and limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are eager to return the temples to full operations as soon as possible,” wrote President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring, in a March 15, 2022, letter to general and local Church leaders.

The return to normal operations, which included the elimination of face mask and capacity restrictions, was based on local circumstances, with decisions made by the temple presidency and area presidency, in consultation with the Church’s Temple Department.

The First Presidency thanked members for their patience during the restrictions on temple operations: “We are grateful for the sacred work performed in temples,” the letter stated. “We trust that our members will rejoice in the lessening of restrictions and will increase their commitment to temple and family history work.”

The letter came nearly two years after the Church closed all of its temples worldwide in late March 2020 because of the pandemic. By March 2022, all but one of the Church’s 170 dedicated temples at that time had 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 continued for more than two years.

A brief timeline of temple closures and reopenings

The Bountiful Utah Temple
The Bountiful Utah Temple was one in the first group of 17 temples to reopen in Phase 1 after closing at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Four phases of reopening

The four phases of the Church’s plan to reopen temples from March 2020 through 2022:

  • Phase 1: Open for restricted living sealings only. Temple workers performed 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 performed all temple ordinances for living individuals, but patron housing, clothing and cafeteria operations remained closed.
  • Phase 2-B: Open for all living ordinances and proxy baptisms. The temple baptistry opened for small groups — particularly for members with limited-use recommends.
  • Phase 3: Open for all ordinances with restrictions. Temple workers continued providing ordinances for living individuals and began providing proxy ordinances for ancestors in a restricted manner. Patron housing, clothing and cafeteria operations could open as needed.
  • Phase 4: Open for full operations. The temple resumed regular operations.
Related Story
Temple reopening status tracker — through June 24
The Frankfurt Germany Temple was dedicated in 1987 and is currently closed for renovation.
The Frankfurt Germany Temple was in the first group of 17 temples to reopen in Phase 1 after the closing at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Temple milestones in past year and total

  • Temples dedicated or scheduled for dedication since March 15, 2022 — 12
  • Total dedicated or scheduled to be dedicated  — 182
  • Temples having started construction or with upcoming groundbreakings scheduled since March 15, 2022 — 19
  • Total under construction or scheduled to start — 52
  • New temple locations announced since March 15, 2022 — 35
  • Total number of announced temples in planning — 66
  • Total temples — 300
From left, members of the Kossoh Sierra Leone Stake; From left, Elder Hugo E. Martinez, a General Authority Seventy and Africa West Area president; his wife, Sister Nuria Martinez; Nabeela Farida Tunis, minister of the country’s western region; Kasho Holland-Cole, chairman of the Western Area Rural District Council; Elder Larry S. Kacher, a General Authority Seventy and counselor in the Africa West Area presidency; and his wife Sister Pauline Kacher, participate in the Freetown Sierra Leone Tem…
The Freetown Sierra Leone Temple groundbreaking on March 19, 2022, was the first held after the Church’s March 15, 2022, announcement of a “gradual return” to normal temple operations. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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