DENVER (CBS4)– You can show your face in public again if you are vaccinated. As CBS4 was first to report Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis lifted Colorado’s mask mandate and wasted no time hosting a mask-free event.

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“Isn’t it great to see one another’s faces?” Polis said to a group of Latinas at the Governor’s Mansion Friday morning.

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For the first time since the pandemic started, he worked his way through a crowd, shaking hands, hugging friends, and celebrating the end of the statewide mask mandate.

“Just to get to hang out and have fun, it’s wonderful getting our lives back,” said Polis.

That includes getting together for coffee with friends or what some Latinas call Cafecito. It’s a tradition Rosemary Rodriguez and Denise Maes started as a way for Latina professionals to network.

“And we have been doing it every Friday for almost 30 years,” says Maes. “Cafecito is community, so gathering together what it’s all about and look at us- we’re here.”

They met with Polis for their first in-person Cafecito in more than a year.

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“You can feel this electric energy here because we all get to see each other after 427 days of being apart.”

Not that Marleen De La Rosa is counting. But she admits it’s not quite the same. She lost her grandmother during the pandemic. The cafe where the women used to meet is also now closed.

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“So, we have to find a new hang out,” said Maes. “Maybe the governor will allow us to come here every Friday.”

Cafecito, like so many things, has been forever changed by the pandemic, but the bond the Latinas share may be stronger than ever.

“You do take for granted being together, spending time in each other’s physical presence,” says De La Rosa.

Maes agreed saying, “I think the message ought to be that we persevered.”

The governor hopes in-person gatherings like Cafecito inspire those who are unvaccinated to get their shots, “This is what future brings and all we have to do is roll up a sleeve and get protected.”

Some 47% of Coloradans have done just that and are fully vaccinated. The governor says, if you include people who have had their first shot, that number climbs to almost 60%.

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He says Colorado has among the highest vaccination rates in the country.

While he has lifted the statewide mask mandate for most places, you must wear a mask from now until June 1 in schools, childcare facilities, and indoor events with 500 or more people. Local governments and businesses can choose to keep their mask requirements too and Target, Home Depot, C-V-S pharmacy, and King Soopers are doing that. You will also still need masks on mass transit, planes and in health care settings.

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Trader Joes, Walmart, Costco, and Sam’s Club say they will no longer require masks for customers or staff if they are vaccinated.

Shaun Boyd