SALT LAKE CITY — Those planning to attend the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should take note of significant new changes to security procedures — including an early closing of the Conference Center and temporary closings of a part of North Temple Street and limitations on personal belongings brought into the building.
"We want people to be aware so they are not delayed or inconvenienced. We want them to plan ahead," said David Miles, the church's director of events and support services. "Whether they're driving or walking, what they bring and what hopefully they don't bring, our message is we want this to be a smooth, enjoyable experience from the time they leave their home to getting here, parking, enjoying the meetings and then getting back home."
The new security measures for conference, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6-7, include:
- The Conference Center will be closed to the public starting the Monday prior to general conference weekend.
- North Temple will be temporarily closed between West Temple and Main Street two hours before and immediately after each session, allowing pedestrians to cross the street in cross walks and other designated locations within the restricted area. North Temple will reopen each day about two hours after general conference sessions end. New security barriers will be placed at each intersection to ensure the safety of conferencegoers.
- Any personal items such as large purses, backpacks, shopping bags, suitcases and food items will no longer be stored on church property during the conference or any future event. Also, no weapons will be allowed in the building.
- Only clear plastic water bottles (no metal bottles) along with small handbags and umbrellas will be allowed.
- People are requested be in their seats 30 minutes before the start of the event.
These new security procedures, spurred by current world events, are modeled after successful safety policies at stadiums and arenas, Miles said.
"People don't usually come to a church meeting in the mindset of attending a large arena or stadium event," Miles said. "We need to help them change that mindset so they are aware of important security issues. We want to keep everyone safe."
The two biggest changes involve the North Temple restrictions and the church's decision to no longer store personal items in the Conference Center.
With an estimated 100,000 people converging on Temple Square and the Conference Center for the weekend, the benefit of temporarily closing North Temple will give the public a "giant" crosswalk and safer access to the Conference Center. Instead of police cars at West Temple and Main Street, the church will place new barriers to protect pedestrians.
The church is grateful for the city's cooperation in this change, Miles said.
"We were very encouraged by their willingness to help and see the benefit of these changes," Miles said.
Miles compared the North Temple restrictions to Brigham Young University closing down North Canyon Road in front of LaVell Edwards Stadium on the day of a home football game. Those in the habit of dropping people off at the Conference Center or using North Temple to access a parking lot will need to find a new route, Miles suggested.
"They ought to be planning on a different route so they don't have to wait and be turned around and delayed," he said.3 comments on this story
The other significant change involves people wanting to store personal items in the Conference Center during a session. Patrons must still walk through metal detectors, with security personnel continuing to screen small bags and purses. Small umbrellas and clear water bottles are still permitted, but metal bottles are not.
Also, the church will no longer allow people to store luggage, food, shopping bags, coolers or other personal items during a session in a room at the Conference Center.
"We used to have a package check room and there's a cultural understanding that people can leave items there, but it became problematic. The church is no longer able to accept anybody's personal packages or baggage," Miles said. "You wouldn't find that at any other venue anywhere in the world."