Residents are excited yet apprehensive about phase three reopening

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — For businesses across the state and our area, phase three reopening is like a breath of fresh air.

The loosening of restrictions is allowing them to let in more customers than they’ve been able to for the last 6 months. 

“We’ve got a bunch of new businesses that opened up and we all are supporting each other,” said Shari Ettiene, General Manager of the Funky Mermaid in Downtown Panama City. “We’re just excited.”

From the Funky Mermaid to History Class Brewing Company, people were out and about over the weekend enjoying Oktoberfest festivities, leaving a little bit more of COVID-19 anxiety at home. 

“It’ll be nice to be able to have the social interaction and get out,” said Jodi Van Avery, a Panama City resident. 

“I think it’s time, keep moving forward and doing what we’re doing now,” said Todd Bailey, a Lynn Haven resident. “I think we’ll be good.”

However, for many of those same people, there’s still hesitation.

“I am also a little nervous,” Van Avery said. “I hope people still kind of follow the guidelines.”

Local doctors and health officials said this week that following those guidelines, like mask-wearing and social-distancing is the best way forward until there is a viable vaccine readily available.

In the meantime, doctors also said social interaction and improved mental health is a huge positive.

Residents and visitors agreed.

“You feel pretty cooped up after a certain number of months after COVID-19,” said Pat Haasl, a visitor from St. George Island. “I think everyone is pretty relieved to see it finally opened back up completely and try to get the economy back on it’s full track.”

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