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The sight of pairs of Mormon missionaries, knocking on doors in a neighborhood or conducting street meetings, is all too familiar.
But spotting them during these days of coronavirus in places such as Arizona, Massachusetts, Oregon, California and Texas has been troubling to some.
Plus, it goes against the direction set by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for missionary behavior during the pandemic.
“Missionaries have been instructed not to go door to door or contact people on the street in areas, such as the U.S. and Canada, where COVID-19 is a concern,” spokesman Daniel Woodruff wrote in an email this week.
To make sure the standards are clear, he said, “these instructions will continue to be reemphasized through mission presidents.”
Of course, missionaries, like others, may have to go out at times to get supplies — provided they are healthy and limit their contact with others.
The Utah-based faith already had posted its regulations for missionaries on its website, noting that proselytizers who remain in areas across Asia and Europe, where the virus is raging, “are taking precautions to stay healthy, including staying in their apartments as much as possible, avoiding personal interaction with other people and teaching through phone calls or other technology.”
The church also has been reducing the number of missionaries in areas “where the virus is of particular concern.”
Some proselytizers have been reassigned and young men serving in the U.S. and Canada may end their missions three months early.
Senior missionaries and those with “serious or chronic” medical conditions across Europe have returned — or will be returning — home. The same may occur for such missionaries elsewhere.
Young Latter-day Saints — men starting at 18 and women at 19 — often fill full-time volunteer missions for their faith. Older married couples frequently do so as well.