SEASIDE — Businesses in the idyllic South Walton County town of Seaside will be closing temporarily in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The pending closure of dozens of retail stores and services was undertaken "with the intention to save lives," according to Kerri Parker, the SCDC’s executive director of communications, in a Monday announcement from the Seaside Community Development Corporation (SCDC).

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Parker was not immediately available Monday for comment.

The town’s pastel colored homes, made famous in "The Truman Show," are built around a town square, which is filled with businesses and shops. Everything in the community, including the beach, is within walking distance of all of the homes.

The announcement was released shortly after the Walton County Board of Commissioners declared a local state of emergency due to the pandemic.

Private beach accesses along County Road 30A at Seaside were closed at 5 p.m. Monday, and the town has suspended all of its spring event programming.

"Over the past few days," the SCDC letter continues, "additional information about the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has resulted in professional consultations with multiple infectious disease experts among your SCDC leadership team. You surely recognize that the guests and visitors of our holiday town have grown to believe Seaside is a refuge; everything we hoped it would be, but not logical under the current conditions."

The SCDC letter goes on to note that Seaside’ "founders and leadership team believe the only decision that makes health and safety a top priority is to close Seaside until April 30, 2020."

Businesses in the town have the option of waiting until noon Saturday to close. After that time, Seaside’s food and beverage merchants will be allowed to stay open, but "for to-go service only, unless otherwise directed by the state or federal government," according to the SCDC announcement.

Among the businesses attempting to hang on until noon Saturday, as vacationers have already started to leave the town, is Sundog Books.

"We’ll try to keep shorter hours until then," said Laney Blanchard, a Sundog Books bookseller.

It wasn’t clear Monday afternoon how vacation rental homes in Seaside would be affected by the SCDC decision to effectively close down the town for six weeks. Very few of Seaside’s residents live there year-round.

Officials with Cottage Rental Agency, which handles a large number of Seaside rentals, were in a meeting Monday afternoon discussing the shutdown.

In the meantime, according to Blanchard, vacationers are already clearing out, apparently in hopes of avoiding major traffic issues as more and more Seaside renters decide to leave.

"People are leaving town," she said late Monday afternoon.

People at two other Seaside businesses, Modica Market and Duckies Shop of Fun, either did not have time to talk Monday, or were still trying to assess the impact of the SCDC announcement.

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In the announcement, the SCDC thanks the town’s restaurants and shops "for your perseverance through these unprecedented times." Blanchard said Monday that business at Sundog Books had, in fact, been slow, but she also noted that it is just now the beginning of tourist season.

"These past few days we have made every effort to stay focused on making our decision based on one purpose: health and safety," the SCDC also tells Seaside business owners in its announcement. "We are all in this together."

The SCDC announcement includes one bit of advice apparently directed to Seaside vacationers, noting, "If you have questions about vacation rentals, please contact your rental vacation property management team."