Beaches in Panama City Beach staying open, masks not mandated

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 7:00 PM EDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG) - Cities and counties across Florida are revamping safety measures ahead of 4th of July weekend.

“We’ve seen a rise in cases as a consequence of expanded testing, but those increases in cases are largely a result of young people testing positive,” said Congressman Matt Gaetz.

Now nearby cities like Apalachicola and Pensacola are mandating face masks, while others are going as far as closing beaches for the holiday.

“People keep referencing to us Miami Beach. Miami-Dade has closed their beach, but Miami-Dade County has had over 35,000 cases of COVID in their county alone as of today. We’ve had 347,” Panama City Beach Mayor Mark Sheldon said. He said as of now the beach will remain open.

“I’m hearing people that are saying, you know, either ‘don’t mandate masks’ or ‘mandate masks’ or just ‘I don’t want to wear them’ or ‘you have to wear them', you know? So it’s across the board a split down the middle from what I’ve been seeing,” Panama City Beach Councilman Michael Jarman said.

Although mandated masks and curfews are not in the immediate future for Panama City Beach, one thing is - the city’s plans to continue with its 4th of July celebrations.

“I encourage everyone that’s here visiting if you’re at a hotel, condo, or a resort, you very well might be able to see it from your balcony,” Jarman said.

“Code enforcement will be on the beach as well as our police department this weekend to make sure that we are giving the safest environment that we can for either our residents, our business owners, and our visitors alike,” Sheldon said.

Jarman said at the end of the day it all comes down to the Golden Rule- treat others the way you would like to be treated in public.

According to our Facebook poll, as of Monday evening responses were right down the middle: 50% of respondents believed Bay County leaders should make masks mandatory over the holiday weekend, while the other 50% didn’t feel they’re necessary.

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