Residents of Manitoba will have more shopping options in retail stores and will be allowed to have visitors in their homes, as the Province of Manitoba prepares to ease COVID-19 restrictions across most of the province.

With the exception of Manitoba’s northern health region, COVID-19 restrictions will be eased on Friday at 12 a.m., and the new rules are expected to remain in place for three weeks.

Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to open at 25 per cent capacity, and items previously considered non-essential and not allowed to be sold, will be back on the shelves. Personal services such as barber shops and hair salons will be allowed to reopen.

Residents will also be able to host up to two family or friends from outside of their household in their homes, and outdoor visits of up to five people plus members of a household on private property will also be allowed. Funerals will have a max of up to 10 people.

However, restaurants, bars, recreational sports leagues, tattoo parlours and more businesses must remain closed.

Manitoba reported an additional 198 COVID-19 cases and 5 deaths Thursday. There have been over 28,000 confirmed cases and nearly 800 deaths since March, 2020.

Top Doctor Brent Roussin explained that current high COVID case numbers and test positivity rates in northern Manitoba where the virus continues to affect remote and isolated communities, including First Nation communities, means Manitoba is not yet in a position to ease restrictions in this region.

Premier Brian Pallister reiterated the province will monitor COVID-19 developments carefully and will make further adjustments to ease restrictions or re-impose restrictions depending on Manitobans’ collective success in keeping COVID-19 at bay.