Provo MTC drops COVID-19 vaccination, testing; masks now optional

Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pay attention as Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks on the Missionary Coaching Heart in Provo on Aug. 24, 2021. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret Information)

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PROVO — New Latter-day Saint missionaries now not want a COVID-19 vaccination or have a unfavorable COVID-19 take a look at to enter the Missionary Coaching Heart in Provo, Utah, in accordance with a letter despatched by e-mail from the MTC to missionaries.

Masks are elective, too, in accordance with the e-mail.

“You’ll now decide for your self whether or not to make use of a facemask in all settings on the Provo MTC based mostly by yourself particular person circumstances,” the letter mentioned. “We encourage all to increase love and respect to others and their choices.”

The adjustments had been confirmed by church spokesman Sam Penrod.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has operated Missionary Coaching Facilities all through the world since final summer time, sustaining strict COVID-19 necessities,” Penrod mentioned in an announcement offered Tuesday to the Deseret Information. “Following the current steerage of native well being departments and authorities officers, church leaders have diminished a few of these necessities at varied coaching facilities, corresponding to permitting masks to be elective, eliminating testing earlier than arrival and inspiring however not requiring vaccination for missionaries who’re coaching in individual.”

In April 2021, the church included the COVID-19 vaccination among the many required immunizations for all missionaries. Since then, those that decline vaccination are assigned to serve inside their house nation.

“Up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination continues to be required for all missionaries to serve in assignments outdoors of their house international locations,” Penrod mentioned Tuesday.

Missionaries coaching on the Provo MTC will proceed to be required to put on masks when attending the Provo Utah Temple, the letter to missionaries mentioned. Masks stay required in all temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After missionaries go away the MTC for his or her assignments around the globe, they are going to be required to observe their mission’s masks tips.

“Please do not forget that these adjustments apply to MTC coaching solely,” the letter mentioned. “You should still be required to put on masks, be examined, and/or be vaccinated relying on journey necessities or necessities to your assigned mission.”

The rules had been up to date because the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention relaxed masks tips for almost all of the nation, together with Utah County, the place Provo is the county seat. The Utah Legislature ended a statewide masks mandate practically a 12 months in the past.

The replace comes two months after the Omicron variant prompted a COVID-19 outbreak on the Provo MTC. Over 15% of the MTC’s trainees examined optimistic in late December. Most skilled no or gentle signs. That very same week, Omicron-driven circumstances rose 60% nationally. Circumstances have subsided since then.

The up to date tips apply solely to the Provo MTC. As Penrod indicated, adjustments might be instituted on the church’s 9 different MTCs “as COVID circumstances and native authorities restrictions enable,” the e-mail mentioned.

The up to date tips enable each vaccinated and unvaccinated missionaries to attend on-site coaching on the Provo MTC. All missionaries who started or will start the at-home portion of their coaching on Feb. 21 or later ought to plan to reach on the MTC starting on March 30 to finish their coaching, the letter mentioned.

A missionary participates in the training for two missions and the MTC in Bogotá, Colombia, on Nov. 17, 2021.
A missionary participates within the coaching for 2 missions and the MTC in Bogotá, Colombia, on Nov. 17, 2021. (Picture: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Some missionaries should still require a COVID-19 take a look at previous to arrival on the Provo MTC whether it is required for airline journey to the MTC. Testing is also required if a missionary has chilly or flu-like signs within the days earlier than coming into the MTC, the letter mentioned.

Totally vaccinated missionaries with callings to serve in English started to return to the Provo MTC on June 23, ending a 14-month hiatus. The church had closed all 10 MTCs as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. Through the 14 months the MTCs had been closed, missionaries had educated solely on-line from house.

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