Walton County Enacts Emergency COVID-19 Measures

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A vote early Thursday morning, March 19th has closed beaches to the general public in Walton County. At their scheduled emergency meeting Walton County Board of County Commissioners passed an emergency ordinance to close all Walton County beaches to the public. The ordinance was effective as of 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, March 19th and will remain in place for 30 days unless subsequent action is taken by the Commission. Walton County Sheriff’s Office will be charged with enforcement of the ordinance which came following a local state of emergency triggered by COVID-19. Walton County Sheriff’s Office is seeking voluntary compliance in this unprecedented time in our community. The Sheriff’s Office stated “It is imperative for our constituents to understand the magnitude behind this decision and the resources it will take to enforce. While deputies will be doing their best to educate and mediate first, personal responsibility is essential during this time for the safety and health of our county. Normal operations will continue at the Sheriff’s Office as far as answering calls for service and continuing our commitment to serving our residents. We are asking for our community to come together to help spread this message.”

“The important thing to understand is that we are going to carry out our duties in a professional manner with an emphasis on customer service with a common-sense approach,” said Sheriff Adkinson. “It is our intent to continue to be good stewards of the public’s trust.”

“The Walton County Board of County Commissioners continues to convey the importance of following CDC guidelines and practicing social distancing,” said Walton County Administrator Larry Jones. “We are asking residents and visitors to continue to take personal responsibility towards working to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

Other items passed:
• Cancellation of all BCC and TDC permitted outdoor events and beach activity ordinance special events.
• Suspension of the rental of all public facilities.
• Extended all current dog beach permits for 8 weeks. No new permit processing until June 1st.
• Extended all driving on the beach permits until August 1st. Beach permit lottery application process will begin June 1st.

All Walton County Volunteer Board meetings have been canceled for the remainder of March and the month of April. At this time, these meetings are expected to continue in May.

The WCBCC encourages all Walton County citizens and visitors to be mindful and adhere to all direction distributed by the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

Protect yourself and your community from COVID-19. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home when you are sick.

The County Commissioners encourage all of those that have the ability to conduct any county business through the County and Constructional Offices online services.

Per Governor Executive Orders
(Updated 3/20/20) – Restaurants in Florida will be able to stay open for take-out/delivery only as of March 20th. Food orders can include alcohol to consume off premise with ID. Gyms and fitness centers were also ordered to close. All Florida bars and nightclubs closed beginning March 17th and must remain closed for 30 days. Gatherings are limited to 10 people. Elective surgeries are postponed.

(Updated 3/24/20) – Gov. ordered  that New York travelers must self-isolate under executive order, persons 65 years or older told to stay home.

(Updated 3/27/20) – Gov. ordered that checkpoints be installed along Florida’s roads to account for traveling drivers and has also suspended all new vacation rentals in Florida for the next 14 days.

State Parks and Recreation Fields
State Parks along the beaches are now closed. This includes Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Grayton Beach State Park, and Deer Lake State Park. Other state parks remain open for day use. All county youth sports programs are canceled. This includes the use of any recreational fields by independent league sports.

Walton County Tax Collector
The Walton County Tax Collector’s office has been monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation closely and will continue to do so through the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and State and Local agencies. We are doing everything we can to protect the best interests of our community and our employees while ensuring you have access to the services we provide.

The Walton County Tax Collector’s office has closed all lobby areas for the Santa Rosa Beach and DeFuniak Springs offices beginning until further notice. The Freeport location is closed for all services. Operating hours will also be adjusted to 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Each of these locations will be offering curbside services to Walton County residents only with any urgent transactions that need to be completed during this difficult time. Identification Card, Commercial Driver License, and Driver License expiration dates have been extended 30 days per Governor’s Executive Order 20-52, however this does not apply to existing restrictions or sanctions. The Tax Collector’s office encourages residents to utilize the online office at www.waltontaxcollector.com which is available 24 hours a day. To make it easier to process transactions online “E-Check” fees will be waved during this difficult time. You can also contact the Customer Care Center during normal business hours at (850) 892-8121.

Walton County Property Appraiser’s Office
The Property Appraiser’s Office has announced office lobbies are closed to the public until further notice; curbside service is available in conjunction with the Tax Collector’s office at both locations; contact the office at 850-267-4500 for South Walton Annex; The Property Appraiser’s website, www.waltonpa.com is available or email to waltonpa@co.walton.fl.us for assistance.

The health and safety of our citizens and employees remains of utmost importance. We aim to continue to provide first-rate customer service at our office locations and encourage the use of the website. You may contact the Property Appraiser’s office by phone, (850) 892-8123, or (850) 267-4500, or by email for assistance.

Walton County Clerk of Courts
(Updated 3/19/2020)
Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles T. Canady issued an Administrative Order (AOSC20-13) on March 13, 2020, suspending all jury trials in Florida’s Court System starting Monday, March 16, 2020, through Friday, March 27, 2020.

Anyone with a summons for jury duty dated between March 16, 2020, and March 27, 2020, are not required to appear as jury trials during this time have been cancelled. If you are unsure if your summons is impacted by this Order, please call 850-892-8115 to speak to a Deputy Clerk.

Walton County Clerk & Comptroller will continue to mail out summons forms between March 16th and March 27th to avoid delay to future court processes once the suspension of all jury trials is lifted. If you receive a summons during this period, the Walton County Clerk & Comptroller recommends calling 850-892-8115 to confirm whether you are required to appear. All scheduled court hearings and appearances remain in effect unless specifically excused by the court. The Walton County Clerk and Comptroller’s Office is currently open to serve the public. Additionally, many Clerk services can be accomplished online and on the phone. The following services are offered online. For a complete listing of changes and cancellations, please visit the website at: www.clerkofcourts.co.walton.fl.us.

Passport Updates
All passport agencies are closed to the public until further notice, and appointments will not be accepted. Expedited service (2-3 weeks) will not be available and customers will be unable to submit passport fees that include the $60 expedite fee until further notice. If a customer applied for a passport and requested expedited service on or before March 18, 2020, Passport Services will honor the commitment of 2-3 weeks door-to-door for expedited service. Routine service (6-8 weeks) may be delayed. Customers may continue to apply for their passport at Application Acceptance Facilities currently providing passport services or may renew their passport through the mail.

South Walton Fire Department
(Updated 3/18/2020)
All SWFD offices, including all fire stations, service centers and our fire district headquarters in Santa Rosa Beach, are now closed to the public until further notice in order to preserve critical Fire/EMS services. The public is discouraged from visiting any of the district’s five (5) fire stations unless you have a fire or medical emergency. All public education programs, special events, and fire station tours have been cancelled until further notice. The Board of Fire Commissioner meeting scheduled for April 13th, 2020 at 4 p.m. will be evaluated in the weeks ahead and held dependent on the current risk to the public. Beach Bonfires have been suspended until further notice. This includes all annual and temporary permits.

Construction Plan Reviews – Please continue to drop off any construction plans for review at the front of the SWFD Headquarters Building located at 911 North County Highway 393 Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. by placing in the designated drop-off box. Your plans will be processed as usual and you will be notified via email once the review is completed.

Impact Fee Receipts – Impact fees will be processed online only. You will need to submit a completed Walton County Building Permit Application electronically through info@swfd.org. Upon receipt of your e-mailed request, the impact fee will be processed. Payment for impact fees will only be accepted remotely via credit card or by mailed check at this time. Once payment has been remitted, we will email your SWFD Impact Fee Receipt.

Emergencies – As always, we are here to serve you. If you are experiencing an emergency, please dial 911.

Number of COV-19 cases of March 27, 2020:
– 15 Walton County cases of  (8 residents and 7 non-residents)
– 27 in Okaloosa County
– 5 in Bay County
– 3,198 in Florida
For the latest numbers, visit:  https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/

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