Sheriff’s Office Responds to Gov’s Executive Order Announcing Phase 1 reopening

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The Walton County Sheriff’s office responded to Governor Ron Desantis’

“Phase 1: Safe, Smart, Step by step” executive order 20-111 and 20-112.

“Monday, May 4th represents a first step, small, safe and measured, but important for Florida residents to know there’s light at the end of the tunnel”, Governor Desantis said at his press conference announcing his plan for the opening of  Florida in phase 1. “Data and facts will be used each step of the way, but we are intent on moving forward consistent with public health and safety.”

On Friday, May 1st, Walton County Beaches were opened and regular beach activities are now permitted with appropriate physical distancing. Vending and fire permits are not still not allowed. Vacation rentals remain closed until further notice. Vacation Rentals are defined as a house, condominium, cooperative or dwelling unit rented for periods of less than 30 days, advertised as a rental, and regulated by DBPR (Department of Business and Professional Regulations), excluding hotels, motels, inns, resorts, non-transient public lodging establishments or time share projects.

In his weekly “Facebook Live” presentation, Sheriff MIchael A. Adkinson, Jr. made clear the prohibition against short-term rentals would be enforced. “It is unfair and unlawful for a few to flaunt the law at the expense of the vast majority of law-abiding property owners. We will investigate and we will prosecute when we can,” he said.

Effective May 4th, restaurants and retail stores are allowed open and can operate at 25% indoor capacity. Outdoor seating is permissible while practicing appropriate physical distancing. Appropriate distancing requires maintaining a minimum of 6 feet between parties, only seating parties of 10 or fewer people and keeping bar counters closed to seating.

Gyms, Bars and theaters remain closed pending further order from Governor Desantis. Personal services also must remain closed including nail salons, hair salons and massage therapy. Pharmacists are now allowed to administer COVID-19 tests. State Parks reopened Monday May 4th with physical distancing.

Visiting senior living facilities is not permitted.

With some limitations, most medical elective procedures previously restricted may resume services, including surgical centers, dental, orthodontics, endodontic and other health care practitioners office visits.

The Sheriff could not give a firm time frame as to when life can begin to go back to normal. “My understanding is there will be a gradual re-opening as we reach certain milestones. Our area could see additional lifting of restrictions in one to two weeks” if Covid-19 infection rate remains under control. (one can hope!).

Update from Walton County Emergency Management

Walton County Emergency Operations Center – Joint Information Center – COVID-19 Case Update:

As reported by the Florida Department of Health on May 1st, Walton County had 5 additional positive tests. This brings the County to a total of 683 total tests conducted resulting in 43 positives and 639 negatives. All 5 additional cases are in DeFuniak Springs. Positive cases by region:

Santa Rosa Beach (11)
DeFuniak Springs (17)
Miramar Beach (3)
Freeport (3)
Paxton (1)
Non-Residents (8)

Message from Tax Collector

Walton County Tax Collector Rhonda Skipper announced: “We have been working diligently to continue to provide excellent customer service for the citizens of Walton County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though our lobby areas are closed we are still open for business to our citizens through our Customer Call Center phone lines, emails and drop boxes” said Mrs. Skipper. “Since the COVID-19 lock down order, transactions continue to come through our office daily. The Walton County Tax Collector’s office remains committed to providing essential services to our citizens and neighbors”. For more information please visit

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