PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – The Panama City Beach Council voted Thursday night to extend the beach closure for another two weeks.
This comes after Bay County decided to keep its beaches closed on Tuesday when commissioners extended the local state of emergency.
Councilman Paul Casto said it’s a tough decision, but they want to keep everybody safe.
“If we open the beaches we will have a big influx of tourists that come down here and like I said ordinarily, we would certainly welcome them and we will welcome them in the future when this pandemic is over, but we are in a pandemic right now,” Casto said.
At the meeting, some residents brought up what other beaches in Florida are doing and wanted to know if the council would consider allowing just locals to enjoy the beach.
Councilman Geoff McConnell says they can’t restrict it for some and open it for others.
“The problem with opening the beach on a partial basis whether it’s recreation or surfing or whatever it is, is it’s illegal to do that,” McConnell said. “We either have to open up the beach in it’s entirety to everybody or nobody. We can’t distinguish between a local and a tourist, it’s illegal for us to do that.”
The council will reassess the closure of the beaches at their next meeting on April 23.