The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday a series of new security measures for its twice-yearly conferences — including street closures — designed to “improve safety and enhance the patron experience.”
The fall sessions of General Conference are scheduled Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6 and 7, at the 20,000-seat Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City. Sessions are planned for 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Oct. 6 and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Oct. 7.
There was no particular incident that prompted the heightened security measures, said David Miles, director of event services for church headquarters, but the faith is implementing “the best practices from around the world.”
Among the new guidelines, spelled out in a news release:
• The Conference Center will be closed starting Monday, Oct. 1, before conference weekend.
• North Temple will be closed temporarily between West Temple and Main Street two hours before and immediately after each session, allowing pedestrians to cross the street in crosswalks and other designated locations within the closed area.
• North Temple will reopen with limited access during each session and each day approximately two hours after conference sessions end.
• Attendees can bring clear water bottles. Metal containers are not permitted inside the center.
• Conferencegoers may bring small bags and umbrellas inside the building, but large bags are not permitted.
• Personal items such as large purses, backpacks, shopping bags, suitcases and food items will no longer be stored on church property.
• People are encouraged to walk through Temple Square and the Main Street Plaza to get to the Conference Center.
• Conferencegoers are encouraged to arrive early to provide adequate time to attend the event.
Miles said closing North Temple between West Temple and Main Street two hours before and immediately after each session will help motorists and pedestrians. "Mixing large crowds with cars never works out well.”
And providing a specific list of what is — and isn’t — allowed in the Conference Center “will speed up the security check-in process at each door.”
The church has not implemented a clear-bag policy, like many sporting venues, including the University of Utah. “Because we do search every bag by hand, a clear-bag policy is not necessary,” Miles said. “And having smaller bags will help speed things up.”
Security will no longer store items for visitors.
“In the past, things that weren’t allowed, we would store them in a room for people,” Miles said. “But when you are dealing with 100,000 people over two days, that isn’t practical, and it slows down the whole entry and exit process.”