Panama City Beach officials crack down on restaurants for not social distancing

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Panama City Beach officials say follow the CDC social distancing guidelines or get a citation.

Starting today the City of Panama City Beach will be keeping a close watch on all restaurants to make sure all laws are being followed.

“It’s different than it is back home, not as many people with facemasks or anything,” said tourist Maggie Pavlock. “It’s a bit more crowded here.”

It has been around two months since restaurants in Panama City Beach reopened but with limitations and guidelines. Rules Mayor Mark Sheldon says are not being followed.

“50 percent capacity,” said Sheldon. “We are done giving warning and we are done playing and telling people we’re gonna tell you again, we’re gonna tell you again. We’re not gonna keep kicking the ball down the road.”

Sheldon says there are too many restaurants that are not in compliance with the law and it is time to get that under control. 

The governor’s executive order states the businesses must operate at 50 percent capacity and have all tables spaced at least 6 feet apart.

For those who do not follow the guidelines, the mayor says there will be repercussions.  

“As of today, if you are over 50 percent capacity you are going to be cited with potential fines and then arrested after that,” said Sheldon

The mayor says code enforcement, police officers and the fire department will be in restaurants starting tonight and heading into the weekend. Many tourists believe this is a good thing for everyone.

“It’s about the safety of the employees and the patrons,” said Paige David. “Some people are not taking it as seriously as others.”

The mayor says it is time everyone to do the right thing and follow the regulations. He says he needs to put the public’s safety before anything else.

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