PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)— On July 27th, the Panama City Beach City Council expanded on its mask mandate, requiring members of the public to wear facial coverings when entering businesses, restaurants, and indoor amusements.
While the council agreed it was a necessary measure to protect the health of residents and tourists, it was not an easy decision to make. Some council members expressed concerns about enforcement.
“It was not a popular decision, but one like I feel like we had to do, I do feel like there will be a problem enforcing this,” said City Councilmember Phil Chester.
So far, Panama City Beach Code Enforcement has done 194 spot checks on business and restaurants. Code Enforcement Manager James Tindle said he feels the community is doing what they can but stresses there is still more to be done.
“We have issued a lot of verbal warnings and now we’re moving into the phase where we’re actually writing written notices,” Tindle said.
Tindle also said the main focus is educating the community about mask-wearing.
So far, eight written violations have been given to businesses, and 40 complaint calls have been taken. No fines have been issued to a member of the public or business at this time.
Businesses like Shuckum’s on Front Beach Road said they have actively been doing their part to encourage mask-wearing, but the response of the public goes either way.
“It’s either everyone in the group has a mask, or nobody in the group has a mask. We have masks here that we give out and people either take it or have a snide remark about it,” said Hadley Brothers, a hostess at Shuckum’s.
Tindle also encouraged, if you do not have a disability limiting you from wearing a mask, you should wear one.
“If you can physically wear one, I would encourage you to do so to do your part and keep your community safe,” said Tindle.
The mask mandate is set to be evaluated by the Panama City Beach City Council on Aug. 13. The data will decide if the mandate can be loosened.