With Gov. Rick Scott’s signature on a law, patrons are now allowed to carry open beer and wine containers out of restaurants during Panama City street festivals.
Panama City City Manager Jeffrey Brown says it used to be that street vendors could sell alcoholic beverages—but nearby restaurants were still restricted by traditional open-container laws.
"A customer of one of the restaurants would attempt to leave the restaurant with a beer and attempt to go out to the festival that was going on out on Harrison Avenue," he says--but that could have resulted in a citation for the restaurant under state law.
Brown says the new law applies only during festivals when vendors are already selling alcohol. And it’s only in two "entertainment districts" designated by the Legislature.
Brown also points out: Under city ordinance, neither street vendors nor restaurants can sell open containers of hard liquor or any alcoholic beverage in a glass container.
The Panama City City Commission looked into the issue after hearing complaints from restaurateurs. They concluded state intervention was needed to grant restaurants a separate exemption to general alcohol law. The measure was sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Patronis (R-Panama City.)