CORONAVIRUS

Some Utah Churches Preparing To Reopen With Social Distancing Measures

May 6, 2020, 11:44 PM | Updated: 11:51 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With the state now in a moderate risk phase, some churches are now preparing to welcome back parishioners, provided they maintain strict social distancing between households.

“We want people to come to a place where they feel safe. Where ultimately, they can be encouraged,” said Pastor Nate Taylor, whose been holding virtual services at Corner Canyon Church in Draper for the last several weeks.

But with the state’s shift from high to moderate risk, churches can now physically bring people back together, while staying separate.

“When someone’s worshipping God we don’t want them thinking about, ‘oh I’m in this room with all these people and I’m going to get the COVID,” Taylor said.

For that reason, Taylor planned to reopen church services to parishioners outside of their building in two weeks.

“Indoors is just not going to cut it for us,” he said. But he said they’ll still stream the service online to allow those people who may be uncomfortable going out or at high-risk to participate from home.

“Churches can resume operations,” said retired Major General Jefferson Burton, acting director for the Utah Department of Health. “However, the one non-negotiable stipulation is the six-foot social distancing required by the CDC. So, to the extent that a church can open, maintain that distancing, map the seating. It may be that a small church has to have three Sunday services instead of one.”

State COVID-19 update

LIVE: State officials are holding an update on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic following news of 2 new deaths and 143 new cases.

Posted by KSL 5 TV on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Father Martin Diaz at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City said the pandemic has brought out the best in his parishioners.

“What can we do? How can we help? I’ve seen so much generosity in the last three months,” Diaz said. And he’s excited to welcome those people back when the church returns to a normal service schedule next week.

“I think it’s more work not to have people because we’re trying to figure out how to serve people,” he said. “Even something that seems so devastating is not more powerful than God.”

Diaz was already making seating arrangements at the Cathedral that can hold 800 people.

They plan to keep households of four people six feet apart in every direction, which would only allow about 200 people. But he expected attendance to be down anyway, since about half of their attendance over the summer months comes from tourists who are in Salt Lake City for a convention, vacation or on business.

He said people are under no obligation to come and they will continue to stream the service online.

“People’s health and safety. That’s first. God understands. God wants people to be a thriving community,” he said.

Pastor Paul Robie at South Mountain Community Church in Draper said they plan to wait to open until the state moves into the green or “new normal phase.”

President Russell M. Nelson said leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will continue to monitor information and approach the reopening of meetinghouses and temples with an abundance of caution.

“I love you, dear brothers and sisters, and assure you that wonderful days are ahead,” President Nelson said in a video on his Twitter account. “As we cautiously move forward to a more normal way of life, Church leaders will continue to monitor information and assess how soon we may again gather in our meetinghouses and temples.”


Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at consumerprotection@utah.gov.

KSL 5 TV Live

Coronavirus

FILE - Comirnaty, a new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination booster for COVID-19, is displayed at a pharmac...

Jen Christensen, CNN

The FDA tells COVID-19 vaccine makers to update shot to target newest variant

The US Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it had advised the makers of the Covid-19 vaccines to formulate their new shots to be a better match for the JN.1 lineage of the coronavirus.

17 days ago

(FILE) A test dummy getting hit by an air bag during a crash test....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Thousands of cars equipped with faulty airbags on Utah roads as automakers issues ‘Do Not Drive’ warnings

Auto manufacturers have recalled over millions of Takata airbags because of their potential to explode and shoot out sharp metal fragments. And there are still thousands of those in cars across Utah.

19 days ago

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 03: Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Director of the National Institute of Allergy a...

Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

Fauci testifies publicly before House panel on COVID origins, controversies

Dr. Anthony Fauci is facing heated questioning from Republican lawmakers about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

21 days ago

A sign reminding Copper Hills High School students and staff to keep their hands clean during the c...

Lindsay Aerts

Utah school districts working to prioritize what stays when COVID relief money runs dry

Utah's school districts are working to figure out how they will continue to pay for programs propped up by COVID-19 relief funds.

1 month ago

FILE: Former Utah Jazz John Stockton reacts during a 76-70 Wichita State win over the Gonzaga Bulld...

Michael Houck

Former Utah Jazz star John Stockton sues Washington medical director about COVID misinformation policy

Former Utah Jazz superstar John Stockton has filed a federal lawsuit against Washington officials on First Amendment violations, arguing the state's policy of COVID-19 misinformation is unconstitutional.

3 months ago

Deer Creek Reservoir...

Alex Cabrero

State parks expecting another record visitation year, hiring more workers

It didn't matter how cold or snowy it was at Deer Creek State Park Friday afternoon. Nothing was going to stop Leonard Sawyer from taking his boat out to do a little fishing.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Some Utah Churches Preparing To Reopen With Social Distancing Measures