Panama City Beach closes city beaches, City Pier remains open
It’s official, the world’s most beaches are shut down.
The Panama City Beach City Council has voted to
all city beaches until March 26.
“According to the experts, this is far worse than what we expected,” said Panama City Beach Councilman Paul Casto.
City leaders say even though the shut down will impact locals, business owners, and many others, it is a step they have to take to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“They’re gonna be businesses that are gonna lose their businesses. It’s gonna happen,” said Panama City Beach Councilman Hector Solis. “This is going to be across the country it’s happening across the whole world, but if we let it continue to linger my fear is that it gets worse.”
Officials say anyone who violates the ordinance can be charged a fine up to $500 and possibly spend up to 30 days in jail.
Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman said Friday they put fences around all public beach access points and will inform people about the new rule through Saturday.
“We'll come out in force because I want to catch people before they get settled in,” said Whitman. “Will have about 20-25 people first thing tomorrow morning just educating the public beaches are closed. We want to be polite as possible but if people don’t listen we will enforce and we will take them to jail.”
Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order to suspend all dining and drinking inside all restaurants in the state. Restaurants can still provide takeout and delivery.
Now many spring breakers are trying to figure out what else they can do during their vacation. This ordinance lasts one week. During the emergency meeting, Panama City Beach leaders agreed to revisit next Thursday to see if they need to extend it.
Officials say that those who owned private property, like condos, along the beach will be evaluated on a case by case basis and will need to have the deed to their property.