PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)– According to the Bay County Tourism Department Council, Panama City Beach will likely welcome more tourists than usual this Fourth of July.
“When the short term rental ban was lifted we saw an increase in reservations, and historically Fourth of July is a great weekend for the destination, so we are expecting a good turn out for this weekend,” said Lacee Rudds, the Visit Panama City Beach Public Relations Manager.
Despite the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the area, the city is still planning on a firework celebration that calls for social distancing.
“There are 27 miles of beautiful beaches which allow plenty of opportunity for friends and family to social distance and follow CDC guidelines,” she said.
Rudds said the fireworks can be viewed from many areas of the beach, even balconies of hotel rooms if families want to avoid the beach entirely.
While local businesses are excited to welcome back tourists to the area for the weekend, they are doing it safely, still at 50 percent occupancy.
“With the spaced seating we’re not able to seat as many people as we like, so the waits may be a little bit longer, but we hope to get everyone seated as soon as possible,” said Alexa Patronis, Manager at Captain Anderson’s restaurant.
Some tourists are still going through with their vacations, but are taking the necessary precautions to keep themselves and other community members safe.
“We use hand sanitizers when we go into the stores and we use a masks,” said Denise Bush who is visiting from Tennessee.
Bush also said she and her friends have been cooking in their vacation rental to avoid going out as much.
The Tourism Department Council has also included a link to the CDC guidelines on their website, which they encourage tourists to look at and practice.
The page can be found here.