Tabernacle Choir will return to rehearsals next week with ‘multi-layer’ COVID protection plan

Tabernacle Choir Christmas show. File photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 17, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s Tabernacle Choir will return to rehearsals next week with a “multi-layer” COVID protection plan.

“The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square organization has been on hold for rehearsals, performances, recordings for 19 months due to COVID,” said a news release from the LDS Church. “With the goal of returning to performances as safely and quickly as possible, the choir announced a seven-step plan at an organization-wide ‘Restart Orientation’ via Zoom on Thursday, Sept. 9.”

Directing the creation of this plan is the new president of the Choir organization, Michael O. Leavitt, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Leavitt took over the responsibility on Aug. 26. “He immediately set to work with a team of healthcare experts led by choir medical director, Dr. David Palmer, and executional assistance from choir professional staff to develop the COVID plan, in consultation with Bishop Gerald Caussé and the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the news release said.

The Choir’s multi-level strategy includes:

  • Vaccinations: All performers must be vaccinated and provide evidence of being immunized. Those not vaccinated will be granted a special leave until conditions improve.
  • Screening: Those with health conditions that limit effectiveness of their immune systems even if vaccinated or with immunocompromised household members will also be granted special leave.
  • Testing: Every performer and support personnel will be tested prior to each rehearsal or performance.
  • Social Distancing: For general conference, only half of the choir will sing at each session
  • Face Coverings: Masks will be worn except when actively rehearsing or performing.
  • Self-Reporting: Organization members will report COVID symptoms or household exposure and stay home with any symptoms, even sniffles.
  • Ventilation: Performances will be limited to the Conference Center for now because of greater ventilation safety.

“The rigorous nature of the choir’s plan is required due to the inherent challenges posed by singing and playing wind instruments in the spread of the virus,” the news release said. “The choir COVID plan will be implemented first with choir members in preparation for October’s general conference. Half the choir will sing in the Saturday morning session and the other half in the Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon sessions.”

Based on results, procedures will be extended to enable rehearsals and performances of the Orchestra at Temple Square and Bells at Temple Square, the choir’s companion ensembles. Live broadcasts of Music and the Spoken Word and opening rehearsals and performances to the public may then follow later in the fall.

In presenting the plan, Leavitt indicated that the plan’s effectiveness will be monitored and if signs indicate it is not working, the choir will pause rehearsals again.

Rehearsals will resume Tuesday, Sept. 21.


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