DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB)– With Florida’s stay-at-home in effect, local law enforcement officials are implementing ways to enforce the rules.
Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson said the office has no plans to set up checkpoints or stop drivers, because the list of essential businesses is extensive.
“There’s a lot of reasons for people to be out, we are closely watching any kind of business that shouldn’t be open or big crowds those kinds of things we’re proactive on,” Adkinson said.
Adkinson said they are trying to balance the public’s rights with the public health emergency.
“We want no more infringement on your personal freedom than necessary but it’s also important to realize that this is bigger than your individual freedom,” Adkinson said.
The Sheriff’s Department is ensuring nonessential businesses stay closed through routine business checks and listening to the public.
“If they call us and tell us there is an issue we’re gonna go out there and take a look at it,” Adkinson said.
Business owners or residents who show willful disregard and disobey the executive order are subject to a second-degree misdemeanor.
“Generally speaking those are the people that end up in jail to start with, but we’re doing everything we can to keep people out and be fair,” Adkinson said.
Sheriff Adkinson said the executive order is not comparable to a complete lockdown.
“You can get out of your house for all kinds of things, but you’ve got to use some discretion,” Adkinson said.
Adkinson said if a person is riding their bike in the middle of the day for exercise or to get to the store that would be considered reasonable. However, riding a bicycle at 2 a.m. when no stores are open does not look reasonable.
Adkinson said the order is for prevention and his department will stay to the spirit of the order, supporting what Governor Ron DeSantis is trying to accomplish. The stay-at-home order will be in place until April 30.