Church services can resume, National Guard will play bigger role in testing for coronavirus in Utah

May 6, 2020, 6:06 PM | Updated: 7:30 pm

church services Utah...

(Interior of The Cathedral of the Madeline in Salt Lake City. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL file)

(Interior of The Cathedral of the Madeline in Salt Lake City. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL file)

SALT LAKE CITY — The head of Utah’s coronavirus response task force is bringing in the Utah National Guard to increase the state’s ability to test people who aren’t showing symptoms.  Plus, he’s hoping to clear up some confusion about religious services in the state. 

When Governor Gary Herbert lowered the state’s risk level and loosened restrictions on social interaction, he said groups should be kept to no more than 20 people

However, retired Major General Jeff Burton, who leads the Utah Coronavirus Task Force, said there is a lot of confusion about the order.

Burton stated the order was directed at family and social gatherings. Under the new gathering order, church services are allowed to resume. There are some requirements, though.

“The one non-negotiable stipulation is the six-foot social distancing required by the CDC,” said Burton.

When the risk level went from red to orange, it allowed churches to open their doors but they have to post signs reminding everyone to keep six feet apart. 

Churches were asked to stream services when they could, and they have to set aside separate times for high-risk people to take part in the services without any “pressure from crowds.”  Additionally, church leaders were asked to consider holding multiple meetings.

“[It depends on] the extent that a church can open, maintain that distancing, and map the seating.  It may be the small church has to have three Sunday services instead of one,” Burton outlined. 



So, can we expect services to resume, soon?  For some churches, yes.  For others, no.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced they’re still monitoring “current situations.”  Church officials also say President Russell M. Nelson, “ assures step-by-step measures will be communicated to make sure it is safe to gather and revisit Church-sponsored activities.”

The timeline is different for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.  Reverend Joseph Delka with The Cathedral of the Madeline issued a state to KSL that reads…

Speaking for the Cathedral specifically, we will make the formal announcement this weekend through our live-streamed Masses and other media. The current plan (subject to change over the next few days) is to resume the normal Mass schedule on Monday. We have measures in place to ensure proper social distancing and sanitation. Since our capacity is still limited we are also working on a way to have parishioners sign up for a Mass. This will also help with contact tracing should someone get the virus. At-risk groups are still encouraged to stay home and we will continue live-streaming the Masses for those who are unable to come. 

Some of the details are still being worked out especially now with the news that more people can come. Obviously, this is a complex issue and we want to do our best to keep everyone as safe as possible. 

Rabbi Avremi Zippel with the Chabad Congregation in Salt Lake states…

“Tentatively our plan is to hold our first in-person services with the upcoming Jewish Holiday Shavuot May 29-30. The last Friday and Saturday in May.  We are planning on taking every precaution to make sure we adhere to social distance guidelines.” 

Also, Imam Yasir Butt with the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake sent a statement that reads…

“We are giving that decision to our own committee that is headed by our own doctor.  The last thing we want to do is be the epicenter of the second wave.  We’re not at the point that we feel comfortable. In our services, people are really close to each other, they stand close together. I don’t think anyone has the ability to regulate (the social distancing) guidelines.” 


Over the next few days, people can expect to see the Utah National Guard take a larger role in testing for coronavirus.  Burton says 120 guardsmen will be testing health care workers who aren’t showing symptoms.

“They’ll also be testing folks that are in vulnerable groups, communities where there is an outbreak and so forth,” Burton says.  “They’ll be able to help us with rapid response to hotspots.”

The latest numbers show 5,595 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Utah with 464 hospitalizations and 58 deaths.


Two Utah County businesses accused of ignoring health guidelines, telling COVID positive employees to return to work

Growing a garden to fight the COVID-19 food supply problem

Here come COVID-19 tracing apps – and privacy trade-offs

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


emergency savings account...

Curt Gresseth

Should employers match an emergency-savings account for employees?

A Utah financial planner outlines a new law allowing an emergency-savings account, with a matching employer contribution.

2 days ago

A Salt Lake County woman filed a lawsuit claiming a COVID-19 vaccine dose five-times larger than th...

Emily Ashcroft

Lawsuit: Woman says she received full vial of COVID vaccine; CVS subsidiary claims immunity

According to the lawsuit, a new employee was being trained and was directed to prepare the vaccine while the nurse training her worked on paperwork.

3 days ago

How Utah schools handle inversion...

Allessandra Harris

How Utah schools keep kids safe during inversion season

An inversion is expected this week across the Wasatch Front. Utah schools say they will keep students inside if the air quality gets bad.

3 days ago

Smog settles over Salt Lake City during an inversion on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. With Utah's winte...

Allessandra Harris & Devin Oldroyd

Inversion may worsen this week, NWS says

With Utah's wintery temperatures this week, there will also be some inversion patterns and low air quality in the valleys.

3 days ago

How to tell if the melon is ripe...


FDA expands cantaloupe recall after salmonella infections double in a week

The number of people sickened by salmonella from cut and whole cantaloupes has more than doubled in a week, with 99 infections across the U.S.

6 days ago

turkey and thanksgiving dinner shown -- food safety is especially important around the holidays...

Eric Cabrera

Food safety tips to keep in mind on Thanksgiving

Food safety is important as we enter the holiday season because food poisoning cases spike around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

Church services can resume, National Guard will play bigger role in testing for coronavirus in Utah