WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government announced on Wednesday it will be expanding visitor access at hospitals as part of the second phase of its reopening plan.

According to a news release from the province, it will be a gradual loosening of visitor restrictions to allow people to see their loved ones, while also preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen said in the release that an important part of the healing process is being able to connect with loved ones.

“During the peak of the pandemic, in-person visits had to be limited as we took every necessary step to prevent the spread of this virus,” he said.

“With the co-operation of Manitobans, our COVID-19 response has been successful and we are now pleased to be in a position to allow in-person visits to occur.”

The province said most hospital patients will be able to choose a one designated support person who can visit daily. Healthcare facilities will begin to implement this visitor access as early as Friday, with all sites expected to have it in place by June 8.

All visitors have to comply with infection prevention and control measures, such as hand hygiene and physical distancing.

“We recognize that solitude and separation can have a significant and negative impact on a patient’s health and well-being. Our goal is to find a balance for the longer-term; a balance that will enable visits with loved ones to occur, with all necessary precautions in place,” Friesen said.

This expanded access comes after the province introduced outdoor visits at personal care homes during the second phase of reopening.

On Monday, Lanette Siragusa with Shared Health said measures would be coming this week to allow visitors back at hospitals.