PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)– This morning the Panama City Beach City Council held an emergency meeting regarding the increase of COVID-19 cases in the area.

The Council passed a mandate requiring that public business employees wear a mask to work. The businesses will also be required to post signage in order to enforce the mandate. It will go into effect 5 p.m. Monday.

The public is not required to wear masks, however the Council is encouraging residents to do so in interest of protecting the health of the community.

Local authorities will still be ensuring that retail, restaurants and bars are operating at 50% capacity and properly social distancing through enforcement.

The mask mandate is a fineable civil offense, and can reach up to a $500 cost.

Some citizens felt that the mandate is infringing upon their rights.

“We are all responsible for our own safety. It’s not the job of the legislation of this body or anybody else. I’m not responsible for your safety- you’re not for mine. Everyone should have an option,” said Hal Lacey a Panama City Beach resident.

Other local business owners see it as a way to ensure that a shutdown won’t occur again due to a rise in cases.

“It’s either that or we close again, and we don’t want to close as a company. We also don’t want our employees to lose their jobs,” said Selma Hill, owner of Fishale Taphouse and Grill.

Ultimately, the City Council felt that this would be a middle ground, and ensure that the best interest of the public health is in mind.

“The only weapon that we have is a mask, and I believe that we have an obligation help stop the spread before it’s too late and we have to look at closing businesses,” said Councilman Paul Casto.

The city will also be receiving a shipment of 10,000 masks available to any business that may need them.

The full ordinance can be read here.