Walton County announces COVID-19 precautions for visitors as beaches open on May 1

Florida Coronavirus News
Walton County Beach Vendors

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)– The Walton County Tourist Development Council is providing guidelines for those who plan to visit the county as beaches reopen.

TDC Executive Director Jay Tusa released a statement on Tuesday to the county’s tourism partners.

“It’s important that visitors understand that Walton County, like the rest of the country, is operating under a “new normal” in the recovery of this pandemic, and that everyone traveling to the destination should come ready to do their part in the recovery effort,” Tusa said.

The TDC is asking visitors to plan ahead for their visit by doing the following:

•Bring supplies that may not be available due to the potential for limited supplies in Walton County, such as hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and plan to use them.

•Bring face masks for you and your family to use when interacting in public spaces.

•Plan to purchase supplies such as staple groceries, toilet paper or other essential items before arriving in the destination, as local shortages are possible.

•Many restaurants or accommodations may not be operating at full capacity, either due to government regulation or staffing shortages. Meals may be required to be ordered to-go, or restaurant seating is not readily available.

•Please be courteous in your social distancing when interacting with SWFD Beach Safety lifeguards. Maintain appropriate space when interacting with them, whether in person, on their Towers, ATVs, or Trucks. They will be seeing thousands of people over the course of this beach opening and we need to do our part to protect them while they protect you.

The TDC is asking visitors to say medically safe by doing the following:

•Always practice safe social distancing, as recommended by the CDC.

•Follow the CDC’s best practices to stop the spread of germs.

•If you or your family are sick, please postpone your vacation until you are well. If you or any member of your group begins to feel sick, return home immediately to shelter in place or seek medical attention. Hospital space is limited in Walton County. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, please do not leave your home until you have had 2 negative tests performed at least 24 hours apart and have been cleared by your local medical practitioner to travel.

•If you or anyone in your party has been ill with fever, chills, flu-like muscle aches, or loss of taste or smell in the past two weeks, please do not travel until you have been evaluated for COVID 19 in your local area and are cleared for travel, have NO symptoms, and it has been at least 7 days since any symptoms began.

Regulations set by Gov. Ron DeSantis are as follows:

•By order of the governor, all persons in Florida must limit their movements outside of home to only essential services or activities. This order is set to expire on 4/30 unless extended.

•Short term vacation rental operations have been paused by order of the governor, prohibiting vacation rental companiesfrom making new reservations or bookings or accepting new guests for check-in. This order is set to expire 4/30 unless extended.

•All Florida restaurants can only provide take-out or delivery (no on-site dining). This order expires 5/8 (unless extended) at the conclusion of the governor’s executive order designating a public health emergency.

•All persons entering Florida from areas with substantial community spread must self-isolate/quarantine for 14 days or the duration of the person’s presence in Florida, whichever is shorter. This order expires 5/8 (unless extended) at the conclusion of the governor’s executive order designating a public health emergency.

Walton County Board of County Commissioners have instituted the following regulations to begin on May 1:

•Beaches are open to the public, with the following restrictions:

◦There will be no vending allowed on the beach (this includes things like beach chair and umbrella rentals, beach bonfires, or other services for hire).

◦No special events will be allowed.

◦Visitors to the beach must adhere to CDC guidelines of social distancing – no groups of more than 10, and 6 or more feet between groups.

◦Permitted activities include: Walking, jogging, fishing, swimming, paddle boarding, boating and surfing.

◦The Walton County Sheriff’s Office will handle enforcement with a customer service approach.

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