DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB)–Walton County has decided to close its beaches to the public. This decision was reached at the county’s emergency meeting held Thursday morning.
The meeting was the third emergency meeting held this week. On Wednesday, the county learned they have their first confirmed case of COVID-19.
Under the emergency ordinance, all Walton County beaches are closed to the public effective immediately.
Violating the ordinance is considered a criminal offense and punishable under Florida Statutes.
The order does not pertain to beachfront landowners. They are still able to use their beaches as the county doesn’t have the authority to limit them since it’s considered private property.
But Walton County Sheriff, Michael Adkinson, says they do hope private beach owners will voluntarily comply with the order.
The ordinance is in effect for the next 30 days. At that time, the county can decide to renew it or end it.
“We’re doing everything that we can possibly do under the law and the constitution to make sure that we can protect our people. We’re following the federal government guidelines. The state guidelines. The CDC guidelines to try and minimize the risk of these people that’s here. That’s why we’re here,” said Bill Chapman, Chairman of Walton County.
The county can revisit the ordinance at any time if the condition of the pandemic changes.