From the Sheriff: Staying Safe from Covid 19 During Summer Crowds


Sheriff AshleyBy Larry R. Ashley, Sheriff

Beaches in Okaloosa County are open from dawn to dusk and business is booming.

Restaurants and bars are re-opened with limited capacities and boosted cleaning procedures.

The Okaloosa Island Fishing pier, fishing charters, dolphin cruises and water sports rentals are available again as well.

Tens of thousands of people are flocking into our area to vacation from destinations across the country.

So what does all that mean for locals or those visiting who want to try to protect themselves from COVID-19?

It means you must take the recommended common sense steps to protect yourself and your family!

First and foremost is practicing social distancing. There’s no doubt it can be a challenge in crowded, hot spot vacation areas like Destin and Okaloosa Island, but always strive to keep at least six feet between yourself and other people whenever possible.

Everyone in Florida is encouraged to avoid congregating in groups larger than 50. So, if you’re at the beach or Crab Island – space out!

Face masks are recommended for whenever you’re out in public. But keep in mind cloth face covers are not for young children under age two.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or inside of your elbow.

Clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, sinks and toilets.

If you’ll be staying in a hotel or rental property during summer vacation, make sure you bring a disinfectant with you so you can keep those high touch surfaces clean. You’ll also want to make sure you thoroughly wash all the dishes and silverware before using.

There’s currently no vaccine to prevent Covid-19 and our area is a vacation mecca. So, the bottom line is it’s important to continue to limit your exposure and not become complacent.

And if you or someone in your group is age 65 or older or has an underlying medical condition, avoid any crowds altogether and be extremely vigilant about following the guidelines for avoiding exposure.

There’s a wealth of information available for locals and visitors alike. The Covid-19 Call Center is open 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121 and you can also go to Another great local resource with a list of Covid-19 frequently asked questions is available at

In the meantime, make sure you keep tabs on what is a fluid situation so you can protect yourself and your family to the greatest extent possible. A fun summer means having a safe summer!