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Local law enforcement, businesses prepare for spring breakers

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 11:11 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Spring break is right around the corner, so both police and local businesses are gearing up to enforce those laws that kick in once a year.

“We want to welcome people to the world’s most beautiful beaches. We want them to have fun, but if you violate the laws, we have zero tolerance,” Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman said.

Whitman said some of the laws include no alcohol on the sandy beach, alcohol sales end from 2 to 7 a.m., no overnight scooter rentals, and parking in closed businesses parking lots are prohibited.

“I think the consumer has been educated over the last few years to know that alcohol is not allowed on the beach in the month of March,” Seahaven Properties partner Neel Bennett said.

Bennett partners with hotels and popular restaurants like Hammerhead Fred’s, Sharky’s, and Runaway Island. With the new Florida rule allowing to-go alcohol, Bennett said they don’t usually see too many of those orders anyway.

Bennett added the signage at all city gateways lets people know no alcohol is allowed on the beach. Whitman said the laws are a result of spring break rowdiness in 2015, so in 2016 they sat down with community leaders to come up with new ordinances to cut down on the mayhem.

“We want people to come down and have a good time, have fun, build some memories, long-lasting relationships, go home, spread the word of how beautiful this is, but we want them to be safe, secure and we want to make sure no one gets hurt,” said Whitman.

Whitman and Bennett said after promoting the area as a more family-friendly spring break destination, the city has seen fewer problems. These laws kick off on March 1. Both Whitman and Bennett said they’re not expecting a huge turnout like in previous years before the pandemic, but they’re still expecting to stay busy. For a full list of all the laws through the month of March, visit Panama City Beach’s website.

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