Coronavirus update: Illinois bars, restaurants close to dine-in customers, drive-thu lines grow

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Without the option of dining in, many Chicago restaurants reported long lines overnight.

As of Tuesday, restaurants are only able to offer food to-go, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drive-thru lines are expected to be slammed across the state as normal restaurant operations are closed for at least the next two weeks.

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"Flattening the curve" refers to efforts in slowing down the spread of a virus even if it can't be stopped.

New guidance from the city of Chicago will allow customers to enter a restaurant and place an order, but says the people must immediately leave after they get their food.

Restaurant and bar owners are now responsible to make sure their customers are following social distancing policies. The restaurant has to make sure people do not congregate inside or outside.

Portillos made the decision to completely close the inside of their restaurants to customers and have opted to rely on a drive-thru only.

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Drive-thru lines are expected to be slammed across Illinois as bars and restaurants remain closed for weeks to limit coronavirus spread.

"We are ready to feed," said David Manseau, the general manager for the South Loop Portillos. "As you can see, we are moving 60 to 70 cars in the drive thru and orders are going out 6 to 7 minutes."

Manseau said he expects the restaurant to serve thousands of people each day. By using a limited menu, they are able to speed up the process.

The restaurant chain, along with hundreds of other restaurants working with third-part delivery services, are also forming separate pick-up lines with staff bringing food orders to the delivery drivers' cars.

"We are leveraging technology as best as we can in the moment and what we are seeing is that orders are flying out at a rapid pace," Manseau said.

Family owned and operated restaurants have been getting creative to attract customers.

"With every order, we bring a roll of toilet paper," said John Durning from Pizzeria Deville.

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The Center for Disease Control says you should avoid large groups of people and stay at least 6 feet away from the nearest person.

That's right, Pizzeria Deville in downtown Libertyville is offering a promo roll of toilet paper with every pickup or delivery order.

"Sunday we crushed it with take-out and delivery because this baby came in handy," Durning said.

Third-party delivery services are also ramping up services to keep drivers busy with some apps adding a no-contact option to minimize contact between drivers and customers.

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The order will be in effect until March 30, according to Governor JB Pritzker. He also says he will not rule out extending the closure even longer.

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Pizza shop closes ahead of COVID-19 restaurant ban

The Illinois Department of Public Health has created a hotline at 1-800-889-3931. More information can be found at the IDPH website and the Chicago Department of Public Health website.
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