Des Moines mayor urges residents to stay home, suspends parking meter fees

Many central Iowa businesses have altered operations during the COVID-19 outbreak. Shown is downtown Des Moines along the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. (Photo by Perry Beeman, Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie urged residents Saturday to voluntarily stay home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

He added that they should work to stay healthy.

That means for at least two weeks, residents should limit their time out of the house to getting groceries, going to the doctor and other essential activities such as outdoor exercise at a distance from other people, Cownie said.

“To ensure we are doing everything possible to prevent the spread of the pandemic, it is my strong recommendation that Des Moines residents stay home for at least 14 days,” Cownie said in a statement. “We know from health officials that the single, best way to control the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid unnecessary contact with others, it is vital we as a community begin voluntarily to take that action as quickly as possible.”

Cownie added that the city will stop enforcing parking meters. Parking will continue to be banned near fire hydrants and loading zones. The city continues to charge fees at the parking garages.

Cownie declared an emergency March 15, closing City Hall and other city buildings to the public through at least April 13.

See a full list of changes in city services.

Other local updates are available here.

Perry Beeman
Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.