NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — All over the world countries are re-imposing COVID-19 restrictions because of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Meanwhile, here at home we’re doing just the opposite, despite the presence of the strain in our area, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.

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“Vaccinated workers now are going to be able to work without masks and they will not be limited by physical distancing,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

COVID VACCINE

Even more COVID restrictions are being lifted, this time for city employees, as COVID cases plummet while the Delta variant poses a threat.

“Right now, we’re winning the race against the Delta variant, but we’ve got to keep winning,” de Blasio said.

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The variant accounts for 10% of new COVID infections in the city, and is growing. Believed to be the most contagious of all the strains, it’s causing sickness across the world, especially in communities with low vaccination rates.

There have been more than 20,000 new COVID infections a day in the United Kingdom. In Indonesia, the variant has been blamed for widespread hospitalizations and deaths.

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That prompted Los Angeles officials to strongly recommend wearing masks indoors, even the fully vaccinated.

“Hopefully, policy makers are going to be looking at what’s going on in the U.K. and in Israel. Despite what looks like similar vaccination coverage, they are dealing with upticks,” NYU infectious disease specialist Dr. Stephanie Sterling said.

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With the variants, the unvaccinated are at greater risk of getting COVID, and possibly becoming severely ill. That’s why doctors say the vaccines are the only shot at protection.

Progress is being made.

“If you have been waiting to get vaccinated, this is one more reason why you should run, not walk, to get your vaccine,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said.

Still, half of city residents are unvaccinated and remain the most vulnerable.

The COVID infection rate is hovering at around 1%, but in communities on Staten Island it’s four times as much. Still, Mayor de Blasio doesn’t believe the city will have to tighten restrictions.

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Tuesday, June 29.

Aundrea Cline-Thomas