While you were sleeping: Coronavirus updates for June 19

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UPDATE: AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron said Friday that its theaters will require patrons to wear masks upon reopening, which will begin in mid-July.


INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

Many businesses in Marion County will reopen today. Most of Indiana entered Stage 4 of the governor’s “Back on Track” reopening plan last Friday, and today Marion County catches up with the rest of the state.

This means bars, nightclubs, tourism and entertainment centers, music venues, movie theaters, and the zoo can open at 50% capacity.

Gatherings of up to 250 people are allowed, houses of worship and restaurants can expand capacity to 75 percent, and malls and retail shops can open at 100 percent capacity.

Playgrounds will stay closed for now, but can open in most of the rest of the state.

Marion County has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the state with over 10,000.

AMC Theatres has chosen not to make masks mandatory when the company reopens 600 locations next month despite spiking coronavirus numbers in some states, CEO and president Adam Aron told Variety Thursday.

While guests won’t have to wear a mask, Aron said employees will.

Some changes you’ll notice when the theaters reopen: capping movie showing attendance at 30%, cleaning theaters after every movie, using an electrostatic sprayer to sanitize seating area, limiting the concession stand menu selection temporarily, and improving the theater ventilation systems.

The company is planning to have 450 locations operational by July 15, and the rest up and running to show Disney’s “Mulan” on July 24 and Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” on July 31, Variety reports.

As more Americans return to the workplace amid the pandemic, they face new challenges balancing childcare. Parents worry that even if they find childcare, they’re putting their kids’ health at risk.

Democrats and Republicans discussed paid leave proposals in a Senate Finance Committee round table discussion Thursday.

“Our economy cannot truly reopen unless working moms and dads know that their children are able to be in a safe environment,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-IA.

Congress passed a temporary rule to help parents stay home with their kids by expanding paid leave for certain employees through the end of the year, but now senators are looking at post-pandemic solutions.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-LA, has been working on legislation to allow new moms and dads to get an advance on their child tax credits to either stay home with their baby or pay for daycare and other expenses.

Fellow Republicans, like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, have been working on similar bills for new families.

However, Democrats argue these proposals leave out the workers who need to care for their own health issues or those of an adult family member. That’s why Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, has been working on a national paid leave program.

“This crisis has also shown us why only offering paid leave to new parents is not nearly enough,” Gillibrand said.

The House has already passed additional paid leave for parents during the pandemic, but it’s unclear if the Senate’s version will include it.

Costco is bringing back free food samples. Target is accepting customer returns on all merchandise. And Kroger is returning to its pre-pandemic store hours at some locations.

Stores that were deemed “essential” and kept their doors open throughout the coronavirus pandemic are now taking steps to return to normal.

The changes may be welcomed by customers who miss the conveniences of daily life pre-pandemic. But some worker safety experts, epidemiologists and labor groups warn that these companies are prematurely relaxing the safety measures.

There are no federal requirements for how or when “essential” stores should ease safety policies related to the coronavirus, but labor advocates say it’s putting employees in jeopardy.

“The threat of this virus is real across every grocery store in America,” said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. The union says at least 68 of its grocery workers have died from the coronavirus.

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