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City approves mandatory mask ordinance for indoor public places

Post Date:07/23/2020 2:00 PM

The Panama City Beach Mayor and City Council approved emergency ordinance 1536-E Thursday, requiring customers and employees in businesses to wear a face mask to stop the spread of COVID-19. The ordinance, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday, July 27, applies to indoor businesses including retail, restaurants, bars, indoor amusements, hotel/motel public indoor areas, etc. 

Customers (and business employees) not wearing masks will be educated, warned and given a mask for a first offense. A second offense for individuals results in a $50 fine and a third and subsequent offense is $100 for individuals. Business employees not wearing a mask can result in the business being fined $250 for a second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses, as well as an order to cease operations for 24 hours. Businesses are asked to post signage on their doors notifying customers of the new portion of this mask mandate, and must provide a mask for customers who do not have a mask.

This ordinance keeps in place social distancing requirements, a provision that businesses can operate at 50 percent capacity and customer waiting and checkout procedures put in place by the ordinance adopted by the Council July 15. It removes language about cleaning requirements for businesses and changes the employee screening requirements to read: 

Employee Screening. Indoor Amusements, Retail Establishments, Food Service Establishments and Bars must daily screen each employee to ensure that no employee working at such an establishment in the City who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 is permitted to work. Upon discovering that a current employee is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, the Business shall not permit the employee to work that shift.

There are exceptions to the ordinance. See Section 4 below. The ordinance is in effect until the next City Council meeting at 6 p.m. on August 13.

Here is the ordinance in its entirety: 



WHEREAS, the City of Panama City Beach (“City”) is a municipality granted home rule authority pursuant to Article VIII, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of Florida and may exercise its governmental, corporate, and proprietary powers for municipal purposes, including to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare; and

WHEREAS, the City is empowered, pursuant to section 166.041(3)(b), Florida Statutes, to adopt emergency ordinances by a two-thirds majority vote; and

WHEREAS, the World Health Organization, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, President of the United States, Governor of the State of Florida, and Bay County have all acknowledged and declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, to be an international, national, state, and local emergency; and

WHEREAS, on March 9, 2020, the Governor of the State of Florida issued Executive Order 20-52 authorizing, among other things, local governments to execute their authority under the State Emergency Management Act; and

WHEREAS, since March 17, 2020, the City Council has taken careful and measured action by Resolutions and Emergency Ordinances to balance the public health and safety while also monitoring the need to allow for recreational and commercial activity to safely continue; and

WHEREAS, on June 3, 2020, the Governor of the State of Florida issued Executive Order 20-139 enacting the “Phase 2: Safe. Smart. Step-By-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery” which expanded guidelines on safe congregations and recreational activities; and

WHEREAS, the City is home to the world’s most beautiful beaches and serves as one of the nation’s premier tourist destinations to over 4 million visitors per year while also serving as the permanent home for approximately 13,000 residents; and

WHEREAS, since the reopening of the City’s beaches and the enactment of the Phase 2 Reopening, the City has seen an unusually large influx of visitors, and that many of these visitors are exhibiting an attitude of carefreeness and indifference for CDC guidelines regarding social distancing;

WHEREAS, the City has observed that the reopening of the State has led to a corresponding rise in contact between individuals, the potential for increased community spread of COVID-19, and a rise in COVID-19 diagnoses in Bay County; and

WHEREAS, since April 3, the Center for Disease Control (the “CDC”) has identified cloth face coverings by the public as an effective mitigation tool against the spread of COVID-19 transmission and provides guidance on how to wear, make, and maintain cloth face coverings;[1] and

WHEREAS, on June 22, 2020, State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees issued an additional public health advisory recommending people wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible, stating that in gatherings of fewer than 50 people, individuals should maintain at least six feet distance from each other and wear a face covering; and

WHEREAS, on July 12, 2020, the United States Surgeon General, Jerome Adams issued recommendations that mandatory mask orders be put in place at “local and state levels.”

WHEREAS, on July 14, 2020, the CDC Director stated that “[c]loth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities;” and

WHEREAS, the CDC, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, stated that “[c]ommunity-level protection afforded by use of cloth face coverings can reduce the number of new infections and facilitate cautious easing of more societally disruptive community interventions such as stay-at-home orders and business closings” and placed special emphasis on wearing face coverings while indoors or in poorly ventilated areas;[2] and

WHEREAS, On July 14, 2020, President Donald Trump, speaking with CBS News, urged Americans to follow CDC guidelines and to wear a mask;[3] and

WHEREAS, the City Council finds that, based upon the recommendations of the medical community and the rise in COVID-19 cases throughout Bay County, the continued risk of COVID-19 infection necessitates emergency measures to mitigate the spread.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT ORDAINED by the City Council of the City of Panama City Beach, Florida, as follows:

SECTION 1. FINDING OF EMERGENCY. The foregoing recitals are true and correct, and incorporated herein as if set out in full.  For the reasons set out in the above recitals, the Council finds and determines that the public health emergency facing the City requires enhanced restrictions adopted by this ordinance which are needed immediately to help address the dangers present in our nation, state, and community.

SECTION 2. DEFINITIONS. For purposes of this Ordinance, the following terms shall have the meanings proscribed below:

  1. “Business” means a location in the City with a roof overhead under which any business is conducted, goods are made, stored, processed, sold, or made available for sale, or where services are rendered. The term includes transportation network companies, such as Ubers and Lyft; vehicles operated for mass transit; delivery services, taxis; limousines for hire; other enclosed passenger vehicles for hire.
  2. “Face Covering” means a material that covers the nose and mouth in a manner that fits snugly against the sides of the face so there are no gaps. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen.
  3. “Wear a Face Covering” means the securing of a face covering over the person’s nose and mouth and snuggly against the sides of the face.
  4. “Lodging Establishment” means any unit, group of units, dwelling, building, or group of buildings within a single complex of buildings which is rented to guests more than three times in a calendar year for periods of less than 30 days or 1 calendar month, whichever is less, or which is advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented to guests.
  5. “Food Service Establishment” means a Business licensed to sell food covered by Executive Order 20-139.
  6. “Bar” means a Business licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption which is not also licensed to sell food.


  1. Business Customers. All persons visiting within the closed interior of a Business must wear a Face Covering over his or her nose and mouth while in that Business unless specifically exempted in Section 4 of this Ordinance.
  2. Business Employees. All persons who own or manage a Business shall assure that all person who are employed or contracted by a Business wear a Face Covering while working indoors within the course and scope of their employment or contract with that Business unless specifically exempted in Section 4 of this Ordinance.
  3. Signage. Each Business shall conspicuously post signage at all points of public entry in substantially the form provided by the City, notifying individuals of the requirements of this Ordinance, and encouraging all patrons to abide by CDC guidelines regarding the use of face coverings and social distancing.

SECTION 4. EXCEPTIONS. Section 3A and 3B of this Ordinance shall not apply to the following:

  1. A child under six years of age.
  2. An individual with a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act shall be allowed to request a reasonable modification of this requirement from a Business subject to this Order. Such reasonable accommodation shall include requiring a scarf, looser Face Covering or face shield, allowing curbside pick-up, outdoor service, or removal of the face mask.
  3. A person who is communicating with an individual who is hearing impaired who needs to see the mouth of the person speaking to facilitate communication.
  4. An individual who is obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the Face Covering is necessary to perform the service.
  5. Public safety, police, fire, and other life safety and health care personnel whose use of personal protective equipment requirements are governed by their respective agencies and employers, while engaged in such employment.
  6. A person exercising inside a Business while observing at least six feet of distancing from other persons.
  7. Persons seated at a table inside a Food Service Establishment. It is the intent of this provision that a Face Covering be worn while traversing a Business for ingress and egress, waiting for a table, to use the restroom facilities, and while standing.
  8. Business owners, managers, employees, and contractors who are in an area of a Business that is not open to customers, patrons, or the public while maintaining social distancing, excluding individuals involved in the preparation and service of food and beverages. 
  9. An individual in a Lodging Establishment who is inside of the lodging unit, including, but not limited to, a hotel room, motel room, vacation rental unit, timeshare unit, or similar dwelling unit.
  10. Children in a business operating as a daycare or children’s camp so long as the business is following CDC and Bay County Department of Health guidelines for those activities.
  11. Business owners, managers, employees, and contractors interacting with the public behind a plexiglass barrier and six feet from any other employee may remove their mask while behind the plexiglass barrier.

SECTION 5. ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR INDOOR AMUSEMENTS, RETAIL ESTABLISHMENTS, FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS AND BARS. Retail Establishments, Food Service Establishments and Bars shall be subject to the following additional standards contained herein:

  1. Patron Waiting Procedures. Each Indoor Amusements, Retail Establishment, Food Service Establishment and Bar shall implement procedures designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 transmission through the following means:
    A. Placing clearly marked areas for individual groups to congregate spaced at least six feet from other waiting congregations.
    B. Businesses may utilize designated parking spaces as a patron waiting area to implement this procedure.
  2. Employee Screening. Indoor Amusements, Retail Establishments, Food Service Establishments and Bars must daily screen each employee to ensure that no employee working at such an establishment in the City who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 is permitted to work. Upon discovering that a current employee is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, the Business shall not permit the employee to work that shift.
  3. 50% capacity. Indoor Amusements, Restaurants, retail establishments and bars shall operate at 50% of their indoor capacity, excluding employees, as determined by the Fire Inspector.

SECTION 6. ENFORCEMENT. Any violation of this Ordinance may be enforced by a member of the City’s Police Department, Fire Department, or Code Enforcement Officer as follows:

  1. For Individuals:
    A. First Offense: An initial violation shall be memorialized by a written warning and staff shall be directed to educate the violator of the substance of this Ordinance. For any first violation of Section 3 of this Ordinance, a violator without a Face Covering shall be supplied one.
    B. Second Offense: Punishable by a civil citation of $50.
    C. Third or Subsequent Offense: Punishable by a civil citation of $100.
  2. For Businesses:
    1. First Offense. An initial violation shall be memorialized by a written warning and staff shall be directed to educate the violator of the substance of this Ordinance. For any first violation of Section 3 of this Ordinance, a violator without a Face Covering shall be supplied one.
    2. Second Offense. Punishable by a civil citation of $250.
    3. Third or Subsequent Offenses: as follows:
      A. Punishable by civil violation of $500; or
      B. order to cease operation as a public nuisance for (24) hours. The Council specifically finds repeat violations of the provisions of this Ordinance to be a threat to the public health, safety, and welfare of the City.

SECTION 7.    REPEALER. This ordinance repeals and supercedes Ordinance 1533-E.

SECTION 8.    SEVERABILITY. If any clause or portion of this ordinance is held invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of this ordinance shall continue in full force and effect.

SECTION 9.    EFFECTIVE DATE. Upon passage by two-thirds vote of the members of the City Council,

Sections 3A and 6A shall take effect on Monday, July 27, 2020 at 5 p.m., and the remainder of this Ordinance shall take effect immediately upon its passage, without further reading or publication to address the real and present public health emergency presented by the spread of the COVID-19 virus and shall remain in effect until ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­10 p.m. August 13, 2020, unless such date is otherwise extended by resolution of the City Council.





Public Information Officer Debbie Ward can be reached at


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