New Guidelines Issued For Missionaries Arriving At SLC Int’l Airport
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has issued new guidelines for missionary arrivals at Salt Lake City International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidelines, which come after coordination with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Salt Lake City Department of Airports, ask individuals picking up missionaries to park on the second level of the short-term parking garage and stay in their vehicle.
Only one car is permitted to pick up a missionary and airport security “will be monitoring adherence to the guidelines.”
“We know how important it is to reunite with a family member during this time but we have to adhere to mass gathering standards, which are in place to protect us. Lives are on the line and every precaution must be taken to help stop the quick spread of this dangerous illness,” Mendenhall said.
Picking up a @Ch_JesusChrist missionary at @slcairport? Congrats! NOTE:
🛩 Remain in vehicle
🛩One vehicle allowed per missionary
🛩 Park on 2nd level of short-term garage
🛩 Airport staff will direct missionaries to parking area and security will monitor adherence to guidelines
— SLC Mayor Erin Mendenhall (@slcmayor) March 23, 2020
“We are in a very serious time right now and it’s for everybody’s safety to limit their contact,” said airport spokesperson Nancy Volmer. “We are strongly encouraging anyone who is picking up a missionary or anyone else to only bring one or two people out with them.”
Missionaries will then be directed to the parking garage by airport staff.
“These guidelines are common-sense measures that reflect what we have previously directed families to do,” said Eric Hawkins, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “It is imperative that missionaries and their families adhere to these guidelines for their own safety, the safety of their families, and the safety of the community.”
The guidelines came after state and local officials expressed disappointment when large groups of friends and family members disregarded social distancing measures while picking up hundreds of missionaries at the airport Sunday.
Really disappointed in the behavior we saw from missionary families at the SLC airport tonight. I get it, I’ve been there (and still have a child serving), but this is unacceptable. In a time of shared sacrifice, we must do better to save lives. #SocialDistancing
— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) March 23, 2020
In a statement, Church officials had told parents or guardians picking up missionaries Sunday to go alone and practice good social distancing.
“That way, the missionary is able to properly begin self-isolation,” officials said. “Upon returning home, missionaries should strictly follow the self-isolation recommendations of the CDC which include limiting contact with others and avoiding leaving their homes for any reason.
“We ask families, friends, and community members to help support and encourage missionaries to follow these guidelines to help prevent any potential spread of illness and keep missionaries and those around them safe.”
Missionaries serving in Mexico, Vietnam, India, Africa, the Philippines, South Korea, Mongolia and countries within the Micronesia Guam Mission, excluding Guam, are in the process of returning to their home nations.
“It’s what they’ve asked us to do and there is a lot going on right now,” said Christian Wood, who was picking up his daughter.
Wood and his wife arrived by themselves at the airport Monday.
“We will give her a hug, take her home and put her away for two weeks,” he said.
Despite the shift from what has become a common sight at the airport, Sister Shirell Shelton said she was OK with the restrictions.
“From the beginning of my mission, I always envisioned the airport moment when everyone is there,” she said. “But knowing that I would just be greeted by my mom and dad that’s all I really needed. I know that I’ve done what the Lord needed me to do in my mission and I’ve completed it.”
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