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Polis signs order giving businesses permission to refuse service to customers not wearing masks

The governor also unveiled a program for visiting nursing homes and a fund to help schools during Thursday's news conference.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) unveiled a new executive order giving businesses permission to deny service to customers who aren’t wearing face masks Thursday, saying that they are a necessary tool to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and allow life to begin to return to normal.

“It’s absolutely within the rights of a private business to refuse service to a customer not wearing masks,” Polis said.

Polis said the state’s modeling uses mask wearing as a factor in a slower spread of COVID-19, and claimed that if there is widespread use, more restrictions can be lifted.

Despite this, the governor has not issued a statewide mask mandate, like the one that’s been put in place in Denver.

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“Studies show that men are hesitant about wearing masks,” Polis said. “… do you know what’s weak? Being too insecure to wear a mask, and spreading coronavirus to your family.”

During Thursday’s news conference, the governor also said the state is working on a program that would allow nursing home residents to receive visits from family members who have tested negative for the novel coronavirus in the last 48 hours.

This is part of a new statewide effort to address the mental health side effects of the pandemic.

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“It’s particularly harder on older Coloradans, who live in fear of a virus that has a greater fatality rate for them,” Polis said.

The governor’s final announcement touched on the allegation of federal money that he said will go to schools with a high proportion of underserved students.

Schools will receive instructions on how to apply for grants in the coming days, Polis said.

“This project is an important piece of making sure our school districts and schools are prepared for whatever happens this fall,” Polis said.

This has been the governor’s second news conference this week. On Tuesday, he spoke at length about the death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests that have happened across the country, including in Denver.

During Thursday’s news conference, Polis once again expressed support for the protesters and said he would back the bill aimed at curbing police brutality that was announced in the state legislature this week.

"Let’s move forward on the challenge of the moment to finally end these pervasive inequities in Colorado and across America," Polis said. 

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