SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday that masks will be required inside temples to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Church leaders said in a statement that masks will be required temporarily in an effort to keep temples open. The message was the latest in a series of statements from church leaders encouraging masking and vaccination efforts against COVID-19.
“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. “Therefore, effective immediately, all temple patrons and workers are asked to wear face masks at all times while in the temple.”
In Utah, where the church is based, a summer surge of the virus among unvaccinated residents has continued to grow while vaccination rates have slightly increased.
Data from the Utah Health Department showed that in the last 28 days state residents who are unvaccinated are 5.9 times more likely to die from COVID-19 and 7.2 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who are vaccinated.
About 64% of Utah residents ages 12 and older were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, state data shows. Utah reported 25 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 2,829.