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Long Lines Await Customers At Secretary Of State Driver Facilities

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The COVID-19 pandemic forced drivers facilities across the state to shut down for months. Now they are back open with massive lines in the brutal heat. While many were waiting Wednesday, word came down from the Illinois Secretary of State that the license renewal deadline was extended to Nov. 1.

A viewer contacted CBS 2 and it said it was unsafe. He said he waited for hours in line of people with a mix of umbrellas, face masks and documents as makeshift fans, and he even got a tan. There are worries about those with health issues. State officials Wednesday simply said stay at home if possible.

"I've been here 3 and a half hours now. Seven o'clock in the morning I got here," said Gina Martinez, one of the many who were uncomfortable and hot where temperatures in Bridgeview reached the 90s.

But COVID-19 concerns limit the number of people inside. Some facilities have closed for various reasons since opening June 1, resulting in the buildup.

"I feel like it would help if maybe they put up some tarps, if they had somewhere people could get water," said Joshua Paz, who was getting a new license.

On Chicago's South Side, a tent shaded half of the people in a line, some of whom state officials say should be at home.

"Particularly those who have issues with the heat and humidity, you really don't need to be there right now," said Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker.

That is because the Illinois Secretary of State's Office has extended expirations dates until November. That applies to licenses and plate stickers.

Facilities are mainly open for drivers' tests to give new licenses.

"A lot of people in line now are wanting to get stickers. It would be better for them to go online, and it would shorten the lines for other people at the facilities," said Druker.

Most people who spoke with CBS 2 had heard about the extension but were pressed to get renewals.

Will expirations affect travel outside Illinois? The Transportation Security Administration will take an expired license.

"We've reached out to law enforcement across the country to let them know, and many other states are doing similar sorts of things," Druker said.

The Secretary of State's Office says online sticker renewal is up 110%, an indicator that people are getting the message. One officials hopes people will continue to follow with the heat wave.

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