PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — A few years ago, Bay County and Panama City Beach officials put in place new laws to get ahold of Spring Break.

“There has been a significant change in our image the beach hasn’t suffered monetarily from it so I think things will remain the same and continue to improve,” said Panama City Beach Mayor Mike Thomas.

Thomas says about 16 laws that went in place to shift the way Spring Break was moving in the county.

“The sale of alcohol would stop so the clubs would close earlier and get back into their rooms and things. We had a lot of balcony climbing and falls and things like that made those sorts of things illegal. The parking on sandy streets where it was dark without permission, became a towable offense,” said Thomas.

The city officials were forced to make some more changes after a deadly 2019 season with multiple drownings.

“We had to do some water safety things because we were still losing people and about half of the people we lost were people that went to save people. The police or lifeguards would tell people to get out and they wouldn’t and then a good samaritan would go out there and get themselves in trouble,” Thomas said.

With this, the city passed an ordinance allowing law enforcement and fire rescue personnel to write tickets or arrest individuals who don’t comply with double red flag rules.

The council approved the Beach Safety Ordinance on August 8, 2019, stating: after a warning, the second offense will result in a $250 dollar fine and the third is $500 dollars.

Surfers are exempt from this law.

While the ordinance went into effect when it unanimously passed, this will be the first full season it can be put to use.

Also apart from that ordinance, vendors and lifeguard huts on the sand are required to have Coast Guard approved flotation devices.

The vendors also have the right to sell those specific flotation devices. This ordinance goes into effect on March 1, 2020.

Another change beachgoers are seeing for the first year is fire rescue personnel patrolling the beaches.

The Police Department’s beach patrol unit and the Parks and Recreation lifeguard program were moved under the Fire Department’s umbrella, creating the Beach Safety Division.

“We have more of them because of their job that is EMS trained and during double red flags, we’ll have not only our normal crews but we’ll bring in the men on a different shift that are able to get out there.”

Thomas says this is the first year all of the components will be tried together and is hopeful for its success.

Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman is also ready for the crowds. He has already reached out to City Manager Tony O’Rourke about getting additional assistance from Parker Police, Lynn Haven Police, Panama City Police, Chipley Police, and Bonifay Police Departments.

Just as a reminder, double red flags mean the Gulf is closed to all swimmers.