New York City is pushing ahead with loosening pandemic-era restrictions for city office workers even as the threat of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus grows.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a Tuesday morning news conference that vaccinated city employees will soon be able to work in their offices without masks or physical distancing. Unvaccinated employees, as well as those who interact with the public directly, will still be required to wear masks.
De Blasio presented the changes as a boon to productivity, and as building on the decision to bring city employees back to their offices in May.
“A lot of people expressed skepticism,” de Blasio said. “Guess what? The timing was just right.”
The announcement comes as Los Angeles County urged area residents to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, in response to concerns about the Delta variant.
De Blasio and city health officials Tuesday expressed confidence that the city is vaccinating residents at a fast enough pace to prevent a spike in cases. variant. Six months into the city’s vaccination effort, 55.6% of the city's population has had at least one shot of the vaccine, according to city data.
“The bottom line is, right now, we’re winning the race against the Delta variant,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio did not offer any specific thresholds on any key indicators that might trigger a return to mandatory mask-wearing or distancing, saying that the city was monitoring the data for signs of an uptick in the virus’ spread.
“It doesn't turn on a dime. It takes weeks and weeks,” he said. “You’ll see plenty of evidence if things are becoming challenging and we have to make some changes.”