VANCOUVER -- The struggling B.C. restaurant industry is brainstorming ways for people to be able to dine out again safely during the pandemic.

A task force will begin meeting Wednesday following encouraging words from the provincial health officer, in the hopes of coming up with a plan that will win her approval.

On Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry indicated she was open to ideas when it came to allowing restaurants to offer some kind of limited dine-in service.

“I think there’s lots of innovative ways that we can have in-restaurant dining, that protects both the staff as well as people coming in, and I’m looking to industry to come up with those ideas of how this could work,” she told reporters.

B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association president and CEO Ian Tostenson said a group of about 25 industry representatives will meet Wednesday to try and develop a “blueprint” for how dine-in could work.

“I think we’ve got the expertise here to do a really good job to restore the public confidence in going back out,” Tostenson said, and added of the 190,000 people who work in the B.C. restaurant industry, he estimates “probably 180,000” are now out of work.

“It’s critical that we find a way back.”

Piva Modern Italian restaurant in New Westminster has recently started offering takeout and delivery through a new website, after temporarily closing their doors more than a month ago on March 17th.

Executive chef Subraaz Abdullah said it was a very tough decision.

“It was really hard to close down, having the staff we have. They’re all like a second family,” he said.

Managing partner Christopher McFadden said if restaurants were able to re-open for some in-house dining, Piva could do so with 30 per cent occupancy, or about 40 seats, to maintain safe spacing. Staff would wear masks and gloves.

“I think there’s absolutely an opportunity for restaurants to do it as safely as we’ve been doing takeout,” McFadden said. “I think it would be a great thing for the community and for the province.”

Abdullah said he thinks there is an appetite amongst customers to come back.

“I think people are going to be nervous at first, I for sure think that, but I also think people want to get out of their house,” he said. “I think it’ll be 50-50, in my opinion, but it’ll be a good start, anyways.”

Abdullah said they would likely continue takeout and delivery as well, to supplement their service.

Tostenson said he’s hoping to present the province with a plan within the next two weeks.