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Panama City Beach Police to start cracking down on restaurants violating 50% capacity rule

Published: Jul. 11, 2020 at 9:44 AM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

Panama City Beach leaders say several restaurants violating the 50% capacity rule.

“How much time are we gonna give them,” said Panama City Beach Councilman Phil Chester. “We’ve been educating for how long? When was the executive order done? We need to put the hammer down. I don’t have a problem with that. If it’s over 50% then let’s get on them.”

City leaders say code enforcement officers have tried enforcing the mandate but they believe many restaurants are not taking it seriously, which is why they’re asking Panama City Beach Police to step in.

“We have too many restaurants that are not in compliance. It’s time to get that under control, whatever that takes,” said Panama City Beach Mayor Mark Sheldon.

Police can hand out citations up to $500 and make arrests if necessary. Melissa Traxler with Pineapple Willy’s said businesses that violate the 50% capacity rule make it harder on the other restaurants who are in compliance. She hopes with police now stepping in, it’ll make a difference.

“They see the ones that are doing it right and the ones that are doing it wrong. Obviously the ones that are doing it wrong, need to be corrected,” said Pineapple Willy’s CEO Melissa Traxler.

Traxler said she hopes the added enforcement will make violators comply and in turn help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. She also said she doesn’t want the city or state to add any more restrictions, which could impact the business and her workers.

“They all need to get back to work because I spring break got cut short because of it (restrictions). They were out of work for a long period of time and they all needed to get back to work. A lot of them had a hard time getting unemployment during that period.”

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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