Honolulu will use some of the city’s rainy day fund to continue COVID-19 testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine services it offered this year using federal CARES Act money, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced on Thursday.

CARES money expires at the end of the year, but the mayor said he didn’t want the virus mitigation services to disappear.

The city will also continue funding the new Office of Economic Revitalization and allocate funds for virus-related cleaning, according to a spending breakdown the mayor’s office shared.

It all adds up to over $5.6 million, according to the breakdown, but other expenditures could be added including costs associated with vaccine distribution, Managing Director Roy Amemiya said. The money could be used through the end of the fiscal year in June.

The city will pay for it by dipping into $7 million it had budgeted to go into the rainy day, or fiscal stability, fund, officials said.

Honolulu will work with the Department of Health to determine how many contact tracers and isolation hotel rooms to keep on, Caldwell said.

Oahu remains in Tier 2 of its reopening strategy. Caldwell said he is concerned that the island is experiencing daily case counts over 100. If that trend continues, the island could move back to tighter restrictions in Tier 1, the mayor warned.

In that case, restaurants would only allow groups of five people from the same household and personal care services would be prohibited from operating indoors. Legal short term rentals would have to cease operations, and gyms would need to shut down, along with other closures.

While planning Christmas festivities, people should consider the risks they’re taking and stay away from others, the mayor said.

“We don’t want to lose more loved ones,” he said. “We don’t want to overwhelm our hospitals, and we don’t want to expose more of our community to COVID-19 … we can love each other by being apart.”

Honolulu will use city funds to continue COVID-19 mitigation measures in 2021. Honolulu Mayor's Office

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