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FL: Panama City mayor proposes change in alcohol sales hours

FL: Panama City mayor proposes change in alcohol sales hours

By Katie Bente
March 29, 2022

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Red and blue lights were flashing at every turn in Panama City Beach over the weekend. Now, that chaos has pushed city leaders across the bridge to take action.

“This past weekend was pretty horrendous. It was 75 guns, 161 arrests, and one person was shot in the foot. Not sure what happened there, but we’re really fortunate that we haven’t had more incidents than that,” Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said. “We don’t want to create any undue risk for our officers at the beach or in town.”

Mayor Brudnicki is looking to adopt a beach spring break law prohibiting the sale of alcohol between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m.

City leaders said when the clock strikes 2 a.m., they start seeing more people coming across the Hathaway Bridge and into town, where some bars don’t shut their doors for another two hours.

Vibez nightclub is one example, where there is a sign out front advertising, ” Spring Break 2022 Open ‘Til 4 a.m.”

“It’s not about profit, it’s about safety,” Brudnicki said. “And I want to make sure that our citizens are safe and our law enforcement officers have as little risk as possible.”

The Panama City Police Department sent NewsChannel 7 a statement in support of law change saying, “We are hoping that the ordinance will provide a safer environment for our citizens and visitors, as well as develop a partnership with the late-night business community.”

The law would be enforced from March 1 through April 30, which is a month longer than Panama City Beach.

“Bars are open until four o’clock ten months out of the year. Two months out of the year they got to close at two,” Brudnicki said. “Go home, have another cocktail at 2:15 a.m. on your couch.”

City commissioners are holding a special meeting Wednesday morning to talk about this possible change.

The second reading will be on April 12, which is also when commissioners will cast their votes. If voted in, the ordinance will go into effect immediately.