Beach City Council discusses canceling events due to coronavirus

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — On Thursday evening, the Bay County Tourist Development Council announced they are postponing the annual UNwineD event.

The move being a direct impact from the coronavirus pandemic.

The City Council continued the conversation Thursday night during their regular meeting.

City Manager Tony O’Rourke started on the topic during a presentation, detailing the virus and its symptoms.

“Hopefully the more information people have, the more they’re prepared we can mitigate the impacts of this disease,” O’Rourke said.

He says it’s vital they stay up to date and keep residents involved on coronavirus due to just how unknown it really is.

“I think we’re starting to see the potential spike in the  United States and we’re seeing an extraordinary number of postponements and cancellations from the Disney World, Disneyland, Broadway, Boston Marathon, Final 4, I’ve never seen anything like that, even in my lifetime even after 9-11, or the economic recession of 2008 so this is uncharted water.”

Once he was finished with his presentation, O’Rourke had one question for the council, ‘where do we go from here?’

The council unanimously agreed they need more information before making any decisions.

“I’m not going to make that decision. If the governor decides, or the president decides we don’t need to have events over a certain size. I don’t have doctors working for me, I’m a doughnut man. I’m not going to make those decisions,” said Mayor Mike Thomas.

Thomas says even though there are a lot of questions, he’s still hopeful for a successful vacation season.

“Fortunate thing is, we’re a drive market. People are still going to come to the beach and I think we’re still going to have a good Spring season but the airlines and things that normally boost us up this time of year with the special events is going to be short. I don’t think UnWined will be the last one,” Thomas said.

Once the state and city gets more guidance from Governor Ron DeSantis or President Donald Trump, the council could call an emergency special meeting to discuss the future of other events.

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