Mayor Hancock Announces Economic Relief Plan for Denver Residents, Businesses

Free at last! Now, if only Denver's bars were open...
Free at last! Now, if only Denver's bars were open... Anthony Camera
Citing the fact that the coronavirus crisis "has had a major impact on our businesses and our workers,"  Mayor Michael Hancock announced a series of economic relief options for Denver residents and businesses at a March 19 press conference.

Hancock unveiled a $4 million relief fund, from which small businesses in Denver can get up to $7,500 in grants. Those most impacted by the pandemic, such as enterprises in the food industry, will have the highest priority for these grants, according to the mayor.

On March 16, Hancock announced the end of sit-down service at all bars and restaurants, which Governor Jared Polis ordered for the entire state later that day. Thousands of people who had been working in the hospitality industry have since been laid off.

The city will also waive the 15 percent late-payment fee on certain business taxes for February and March.

Additionally, Denver Arts & Venues is making grants of up to $1,000 each available to artists who are out of work or struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic and related venue closures.

"Mary Louise reminded me not to forget our artists, who will be disproportionately affected by our shutdown," Hancock said in reference to his wife, a singer and actress.

For businesses that need a major cash injection, the city will assist them in applying for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the federal government, which can lend businesses up to $2 million.

And in an announcement that will delight many Denver residents, Hancock said that the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will suspend enforcement of parking meters; time-limited, non-metered parking areas; residential permit parking areas; spaces with 72-hour parking limits; school bus loading zones...and booting.

"I want to thank everybody who reached out to us on social media platforms," he said, in reference to complaints the city had received regarding parking enforcement.

There will also be a "month-long virtual job fair" for Denver city jobs.

As of March 18, there have been 216 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Colorado, 43 of them in Denver.

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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.