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Bay County Commission votes for soft opening of Panama City Beach

After hearing from local Dermatologist Dr. Jon Ward on the numbers and statistics of the Corona Virus, Commissioner Keith Baker started the discussion of re-opening the beaches during the Covid-19 closures by saying “We need to get back on the horse and start riding again.” He continued by saying “The economics of this is crucial.”

“We can’t just stick our head in the sand every time something comes out of China,” were Commissioner Hamm’s sentiments. He continued by saying, “We take risks in everything we do, Bay County is full of responsible people; we proved it after Hurricane Michael, and we will do the same now.”

The commission voted 4-1 for a soft opening, with Commissioner Keith Baker dissenting. The beaches will open during the hours of 6:00 am til 9:00 am in the morning and will reopen in the afternoon from the hours of 5:00 pm til 8:00pm. The commission urged the community to use good judgment and to follow the social distancing guidelines by the Governor’s executive order of crowd sizing. This vote is effective and set to begin Friday April 24th at 6am and will be reviewed weekly.

Commissioners Bill Dozier and Robert Carroll both spoke of a soft opening, not wanting every resident in Georgia and Alabama to “think the gates are wide open.” “If we see this going south on us then we need to pull the reigns back quickly,” said Commissioner Dozier.

County Commission Chairman Griff Griffitts pointed out the commission’s decision was only on the white sandy beaches. “This short closure has already cost our community $300 million in spending.” Their vote today does not affect restaurants, VRBOs, or any of the decisions made by the Governors Order on closures in the state of Florida.

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