Closures and cancellations in Panama City Beach

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — The concerns of COVID-19 and precautions to prevent its spread are happening daily.

In Panama City Beach, the city’s council decided to adopt a ‘COVID-19 Action Plan’ to keep its residents and visitors safe.

During a special emergency meeting, City Manager Tony O’Rourke presented the action plan; a list of different moves the city should make as well as the direction from Governor Ron DeSantis.

Those items are as follows:

  • Prohibited all public gatherings at City facilities/property with more than 10 people until May 1.
  • Canceled City recreational sports leagues, tournaments, organized team practices, and special events until May 1.
  • Closed Frank Brown Park Community Center and Lyndell Center for the next 60 days.
  • Encouraged all public places/businesses/restaurants/retail stores to have alcohol-based hand sanitizer at their entrances.
  • Encouraged citizens to utilize online or telephone services to conduct business with the City.
  • Recommended restaurant patrons to keep a six-foot distance and limit occupancy to 50 percent, per Gov. DeSantis.
  • Prohibited the public from congregating in groups larger than 10 on the beach, per Gov. DeSantis.
  • Close all bars and nightclubs for 30 days, per Gov. DeSantis.
  • Encouraged limiting public interaction with City services employees in: Utility billing, Code Enforcement, HR, Civil Service, building inspection, routine police and fire contact.
  • There will be no involuntary water utility shutoff and late payment delinquency action for 60 days.

One move the council did not make is closing the beach or any restaurants.

“There’s not a person in this room, in business, that their business isn’t already down by 30%,” said Mayor Mike Thomas during that meeting.

He says they canceled the events, knowing the city and county need the revenue but knows the move is good for the health of the area.

One of those events no longer happening is the third annual Sand Jam Music Festival. It was set to take place April 24- 26.

“The good news is, we’ll do it again. The bad news is, it’s definitely going to be some bloody knees on the ground recovering but there is no prejudice. This affects all people. Unfortunately, it’s a smart decision. We fought and fought as long as we could but the reality is, this is something the community needs to take very seriously.”

Another major event taken off the line-up is Thunder Beach. The annual motorcycle rally was scheduled for April 29 – May 3. With the last day of the event being so close to the May 1 restriction, Thunder Beach President Joe Biggs says they will work to see if the event can go on.

“I certainly don’t want to create a situation where it looks like all I car about is putting the event on but the event brings in a tremendous amount of money to the community and if things go in the direction it looks like it’s going, the community is going to need that revenue,” said Biggs.

Biggs says most of the bikers will come to the area with or without the event but he would like them to have an event to come to.

The council also gave O’Rourke the authority to use up to $25,000 for necessary cleaning supplies and services to help keep city employees safe.

See the full resolution the council adopted here.

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