Special events are coming back to Panama City Beach after decline in COVID cases

Panama City Beach

PANAMA CITY BEACH Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City Beach officials say the city will start hosting large special events once again. 

In early August, the city canceled five major events including Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. 

Panama City Beach City Manager Drew Whitman is in charge of issuing or denying the permits for events. 

“Back in May of 2020 the city council passed a resolution that any special events is COVID rates went up and ICU capacity maxed out at hospitals any special events would have to be denied,” Whitman said. 

After watching the downward trend in local COVID-19 cases, Whitman said it’s time to bring people back together. 

“Yeah we are seeing a better trend with the ICU numbers positivity rates have come down quite a bit at the hospitals,” Whitman said. 

PCPD has an effort to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safer

Whitman pulled the permits for the events in the first week of August.

Numbers released from ascension sacred heart officials show there were 132 people hospitalized for COVID-19 at the time. 

The most recent data from the hospital shows only 58 patients. 

Whitman said as long as the cases stay down then most events will happen.

To ensure there are no more cancellations, event organizers are making some adjustments. For the upcoming “Pirates of the High Seas Festival,” Lacee Rudd the Public Relations Manager for Visit Panama City Beach said people can search for treasure all across the beach and from the comfort of their own homes.

“We decided to bring that virtual component back for this year in addition to our in-person event,” Rudd said.

The Pirates of the High Seas festival will start on October 4 and go on until the 10th. Participants can pick up free pirate swag from the visitors center and Pier Park. 

TDC officials say to limit the crowds there will not be a pirates parade.

Instead, there will be a treasure hunt spread out across the beach and online. 

The online treasure hunt can be done from anywhere and is available on the Visit Panama City Beach website. Once the treasure hunt is completed, participants will be entered into a prize giveaway draw to win a stay in Panama City Beach for four people.

“Visitors can still participate in the pirate fun and but not have those mass gatherings and we extended the treasure hunt through the entire week so there won’t be as many large groups in one place,” Rudd said.

Despite lower covid cases, Whitman said some events are still too risky. 

“Sandjam was such a large event there was no way I could’ve done a conditional denial on them,” Whitman said

Sandjam was scheduled for October 1-3. Whitman said an event like this takes a lot more time and planning to put on. It would also involve a lot of city staff which takes advanced planning as well. 

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