'Betsy's wearing a mask': Historic district attractions reopen with COVID-19 adjustments

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By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As attractions in Philadelphia’s historic district start to reopen after being shut down for several months because of the pandemic, adjustments are being made to make things safe for visitors and the staff.

When you go through the gates and into the courtyard of the Betsy Ross House, you see hand sanitizer stations, as well as reminders of keeping 6 feet apart and that everyone must wear face masks. That also goes for the lady of the house.

"You can't miss the fact that Betsy's wearing a mask," said Lisa Acker Moulder, director of the Betsy Ross House.

"That was an interesting situation to figure out what to do with Betsy," admitted Moulder.

A face covering on Betsy may look odd, but it wouldn't have been too unusual in the 1700s. So it was incorporated into the Betsy interpreter's scripts.

"You would see in a lot of 18th century writings, people would refer to these miasmas in the air, so they would cover their faces with scarves or handkerchiefs, or whatever they had to protect themselves from these miasmas,” explained Moulder.

So now Betsy stands on a outdoor stage instead of being inside, addresses the face covering right off the bat with the miasmas, then moves on with the presentation.

Guests can go on and tour the inside with strict distancing rules in place.

"We are so fortunate to have this courtyard space. Without the courtyard, I don't know that we would have been able to reopen," Moulder added.

Evening programming at the landmark is being planed for the fall to try and raise revenue that was lost when the site was closed.

"We are in the early stages of planning it now, but we are looking to do some after hours programming with some spooky tours and that kind of thing, all based in history, so it's nothing like ghosts jumping out at you or anything like that," she revealed. "It will be the macabre of the 18th century."

More information can be found at Historic Philadelphia's website.