PCB officials cancel, deny, conditional deny many end of summer events
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Summer Concert Series put on by Panama City Beach is one of many special events to be affected by the rising number of COVID cases.
“Any event, regardless of the size of it, it’s important that if we lose it, it impacts the whole city,” City Manager Drew Whitman said.
But losing events is what’s happening in Panama City Beach because of COVID-19.
Whitman said they base these decisions on the health criteria set by Resolution 20-114, which was adopted in May 2020. This resolution sets safety standards and protocols for the approval of special events.
“If COVID cases went up or the ICU capacity was maxed out, that the City Manager would deny, do a conditional denial for any special events,” said Whitman.
Whitman said he canceled the summer series because it wouldn’t be fair if the city could put on events while telling other people they can’t.
With the Summer Concert Series being canceled, it has some questioning the fate of other future events. One event, in particular, is Gulf Coast Jam in less than a month.
The country music festival at Frank Brown Park brought in right at 70,000 people during the June event.
On August 6th, Whitman denied a permit for the event’s September dates.
Whitman’s email to Event Organizer Rendy Lovelady reads:
“At this time, I am issuing a denial of your special event application for Gulf Coast Jam, scheduled for September 3-5, 2021. This action is being taken in accordance with Resolution 20- 114 (attached for your reference), which was passed by the City Council on May 28, 2020, and remains in full force and effect. This Resolution sets forth the standards for the approval of special events based upon the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community. Resolution 20-114 requires that I review the available data on COVID-19 cases in the area as well as ICU capacity in our County’s hospitals. Based upon a review of the required heath criteria, current COVID-19 cases are increasing, and Bay County hospital ICU capacity is inadequate. Accordingly, the Resolution prohibits the approval of your event. Importantly, your denial is based on the above-referenced health data as of the date of this letter. Gulf Coast Jam is a large event and requires a substantial amount of city resources, I cannot wait to the last minute to cancel your event. With the rate of the ICU capacity, I cannot risk the chance of something happening at your event or in our area where necessary beds may be needed for our citizens. I know this is a drastic change from our conversation a week ago, but I did not foresee the high demand for our local ICU capacity, or the strain COVID-19 has put on our medical staff and community.”
“The main thing about that is the beds are full, the nurses are getting tired, the medical staff is getting tired. But coming from public safety, I’m concerned about a large event happening, a trauma event was to happen where a lot of people need hospital beds, that’s what I’m concerned about,” said Whitman.
When we asked Whitman whether he thinks Gulf Coast Jam officials will reapply for a permit at a later date, he said...
“That would be up to them. I can’t speak for them,” said Whitman.
Gulf Coast Jam Officials said they weren’t available to be interviewed Monday, but tell us a decision on how they will proceed will be made Tuesday morning.
Gulf Coast Jam was also the only special event to be fully denied.
Whitman issued a conditional denial for the Panama City Food Truck Festival, Creatures Of The Night, October Fest, and The International Beach Games. He wants to reiterate he does not have the power to cancel these events and they can re-apply for new permits.
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