New Orleans ended furloughs for public safety workers on Monday, tapping into a line of credit to exempt police, firefighters and others from a citywide policy aimed at stemming the fiscal crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell and her administration made clear that they are betting on more federal funding and a rebounding economy to cover the costs of the move and warned that if neither materializes, layoffs could be used to fill the budget gap.

Police and fire unions have been clamoring to be exempt from the furloughs — which require every rank-and-file employee to take one unpaid day off every two weeks — since they were first announced in the fall, calls that have only grown louder as killings have surged across the city, NOLA.com reports.

In her first press conference of the new year, Cantrell said that bringing thousands of first responders, including employees with the New Orleans Police Department, Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services and Health Department, back to full-time work was “the first step on the city’s road to recovery.”

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