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DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Within hours of the Walton County Board of County Commissioners’ unanimous Tuesday decision to reopen the county’s 26 miles of public and private beaches on May 1, some county offices and other entities began working to advise potential visitors that a beach vacation in the time of the new coronavirus will be a significantly different experience than in previous years.


RELATED: Walton County beaches to open without time restrictions, sunbathing not allowed


Broadly, the beach reopening, an amendment to a county declaration of a local state of emergency declared last month, allows access to the beach with no time restrictions. There are, however, restrictions on activities, which are limited to walking, jogging, fishing, swimming, paddleboarding, surfing and boating. Interestingly, sunbathing, defined loosely Tuesday by Commission Chairman Bill Chapman as using "a blanket on the beach" to enjoy the sun, is not allowed, although chairs, umbrellas and tents will be allowed on the beaches.


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At the direction of the commission in connection with Tuesday’s vote, vacation rental operations and other accommodations-related businesses are being provided with guidelines for potential visitors to follow prior to, and during, any vacation in the county.


"It is our hope that this information will be shared by them to our visitors," Louis Svehla, the county’s public information manager, said in an email unveiling the guidance.


In addition, Svehla noted in the email, the county’s Tourist Development Council will be disseminating the guidance as part of its online marketing to potential visitors.


The guidance pulls no punches. As an example, the second sentence is a somewhat less than subtle warning to people living in places where coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders are in place.


"First, ensure your state of origin does not have a stay at home order that prohibits unnecessary travel," the sentence reads, immediately after telling potential visitors to Walton County to "plan to take enhanced precautions to help stop the spread of COVID-19."


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The document also includes specific medical guidance, asking people who are sick or have family members who are sick to postpone their vacation, and asking visitors who become sick while in Walton County "to return home immediately to shelter in place or seek medical attention."


Also, the document warns, "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."


A quick Wednesday check of nearby states, from which a large number of visitors routinely drive to Walton County, showed that various so-called "stay-at-home" orders remained in place Wednesday. For example, Louisiana’s order is in place until May 15, as is an order in Alabama that encourages people to stay at home. A Mississippi order is in place until May 11.


At the same time, however, stay-at-home orders were slated to expire Thursday in Tennessee (with the exception of six counties), and Georgia.


Elsewhere in the country, in states whose license plates are seen regularly in Walton County, Pennsylvania has extended its stay-at-home order to May 8, and New York and Michigan have extended their stay-at-home orders to May 15.


In specific guidance for people who do plan to vacation in Walton County, the document suggests that visitors bring hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, primary tools in fighting COVID-19 "and plan to use them."


The guidance also asks visitors to "bring face masks for you and your family to use when interacting in public spaces."


Visitors should also "plan to purchase supplies such as staple groceries, toilet paper or other essential items before arriving in the destination, as local shortages are possible," the document notes.


Additionally, the document warns that staffing shortages and various government mandates may mean that accommodations aren’t operating as normal, and restaurants likely will be offering to-go service or have only limited seating.


In addition to distributing the above information, Jay Tusa, the executive director of the Tourist Development Council, has written a letter to the county’s tourism-related businesses.


"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 wrote.