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Local law enforcement prepare for spring breakers and tourists

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 9:10 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - You may notice railings and signs that say “pedestrian traffic only” blocking the entrances to South Pier Park Drive. That’s because Panama City Beach officials have closed this part of the boardwalk from Front Beach Road to Hilton Drive as part of spring break preparations.

“It’s just that small section where the restaurants are at and the shops are at, so people can get out and walk and have a good time and not have to worry about traffic,” Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman said.

Whitman said they’ve been encouraging a more family-friendly spring break since 2016. Whitman said with less vehicle traffic, it’s a lot safer for everyone.

“We get a lot of young families down here with young kids and they’re running around having a good time looking at the stores and eating outside,” said Whitman.

Another safety addition is signs that remind visitors drinking is not allowed on the sandy beaches during the month of March. Other spring break laws they’re enforcing include alcohol sales that end from 2 to 7 a.m., no overnight scooter rentals, and parking at closed business is prohibited.

We spoke with several tourists that say they feel very safe vacationing here. The best part, they say, is being able to walk down South Pier Park Drive without any worries.

“Sometimes you can be distracted driving along here and looking at the different shops, that you might miss someone stepping into the traffic,” said one woman.

“Yes, I feel perfectly safe here,” said one man.

“Yes absolutely, it’s been great,” said another man.

Whitman said they’re not anticipating a huge spring break turnout, but they’re prepared for anything.

“We want them to have fun. Don’t interfere with someone else having fun. Try to behave yourself, and if you do something wrong, we will put you in jail,” said Whitman.

South Pier Park Drive will be closed for motor traffic through April 4. These spring break laws are enforced throughout the entire month of March.

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