Major changes planned for restaurants due to COVID-19

Restaurants will have to struggle through another month by offering carryout, and when they do re-open, they will look and feel a lot different than we remember.

The National Restaurant Association has now published its guidelines for how restaurants should safely re-open, but for now, those won't apply to Illinois restaurants that have to keep their dining rooms closed for at least another five weeks.

“t's worrisome because we don't know how long this will last,” said Darcy Moreno of Mas Alla Del Sol. “And our employees are our family.”

“I have a lot of employees that would like to work and want to and a lot that are scared and don't know where they want to be,” said Greg Gibbs of Chicago Bagel Authority.

There is uncertainty and fear among Chicago’s restauranteurs, as Governor JB Pritzker's stay-at-home order will be extended through May 30.

“As each passing day goes on, we're hemorrhaging out here and we gotta figure out the economic model as we move forward so we can keep us the culinary capital of the united states, WHICH WE ARE!” said Sam Toia, President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

When the stay-at-home order is lifted, the National Restaurant Association recommends restaurants place tables six-feet apart and sanitize menus and table-tops between every use, among other measures.

But Toia says he fears many independent restaurants won't be able to survive if occupancy restrictions are too strict.

“We can work with some of that stuff. No question, we can work with it. The problem as we move forward is what is the occupancy going to be? Are you going to cut the occupancy to 50 percent? That don't work,” Toia said.

“I don't know how that would work out for employees…because at a diminished capacity of seating, would probably be a diminished capacity for employees,” Moreno said.

Governor Pritzker has not yet laid out a timetable for when Illinois restaurants will be able to start operating again at full capacity.