Tourists have mixed reactions to Philadelphia's new mask recommendation

Health officials said the city is seeing "a small but disturbing increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 among children."
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Health officials in Philadelphia said Thursday they are now strongly recommending everyone wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

Officials said as of Thursday, 60.8% of adults in Philadelphia are fully vaccinated, and 73.9% have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

"As of this week, over one million people have been vaccinated in Philadelphia," said Mayor Jim Kenney. "The numbers make it clear: vaccinations are the best way to combat COVID-19 by protecting ourselves and the people around us."

RELATED: Philadelphia again recommends masks for indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status

Despite those numbers, Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said the city is also seeing "a small but disturbing increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 among children."

"It's time for all of us to do what we need to do to protect our city's kids. That means getting fully vaccinated if you haven't yet, and it means all of us going back to wearing masks in public. Kids under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated. They need you to step up," she said.

Democratic City Councilman at large Allan Domb said after Thursday's announcement he began receiving calls from business owners who fear this is the beginning of another shutdown.

"I guess the greatest concern is a lot of people feel we're on the way back. I think before the city makes any decisions about requirements and recommendations we need to bring business owners across the city to the table," said Domb.

He added that with health officials reporting vaccinations are the best protection, especially with the spread of the contagious Delta variant, the city needs to laser focus on getting the unvaccinated, vaccinated.

A map shows that the poorest areas of the city have the least amount of vaccinated people.
"We need to really take the bottom ten zip codes with vaccination rates somewhere around 33% and figure out how to get those vaccination rates to 75-80%," Domb added.

Tourists Action News spoke with on Friday had mixed opinions.

"I don't necessarily like wearing the mask but if they have a sign up and it's required, I don't mind," said Jay Rhodes, who was visiting with his family from Indiana.

Sicay Wolbe, who was visiting from Minnesota, said she prefers everyone to wear masks.

"It's better to be mandated because we are seeing a lot of cases now," she said.

Jeff Guaracino, who is the CEO and President of Visit Philly and on the board of The U.S. Travel Association, is currently at the travel association's summer conference in Colorado. The topic among the hospitality industry is to mask or not to mask.

Guaracino does not think that Thursday's recommendation will curtail crowds headed to Philadelphia.

"It doesn't present challenges because it really is a personal preference are getting back out there, back to travel," said Guaracino. "The feedback we're receiving is how can we best adequately communicate the current policies in the region and Philadelphia to people who want to make a visit and we're open, we're certainly open."
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.