BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The holiday weekend has brought in visitors from all over the Southeastern US, creating a much different scene on the beaches this weekend than this time a month ago.
“They are super crowded,” said Carter Reddick, a visitor from Georgia enjoying the beaches on Saturday. He said the virus seems to have taken a backseat in the minds of many.
“It’s a good time down here,” Reddick said. “People don’t seem to be worried about it as much.”
For others, it’s still a minor concern, but they said people are respecting personal space, even in groups larger than ten.
“Everyone’s coming in and having fun,” said Amelia White, another visitor from Georgia. “But people are panicky about it so they stay their own little ways.”
On a local level, while some residents feel that it’s all happening too soon, others disagree.
“I’m glad to see everyone enjoying themselves the way it should be down here in Panama City Beach,” said Clyde Davis, a Bay County Resident.
For restaurants like Patches Pub and Grill near St. Andrews State Park, the foot-traffic has gone up considerably.
“I didn’t think we would be this busy this quick,” said Vince Greiner, owner of Patches. “We went from zero to a thousand miles an hour overnight.”
Greiner said he’s happy to see people back but wishes that other businesses could say the same.
“I’m disappointed that all the businesses on Thomas Drive could not be open this weekend,” he said. “There are a lot of people here that want to have a lot of fun and there’s some businesses that aren’t open that everybody should be experiencing.”
There’s no word yet on when closed establishments like bars will be able to reopen.