The Government of Manitoba is making a host of changes to its existing liquor licensing laws, including allowing alcohol to be served in salons and spas.
Under the new liquor licensing rules announced Tuesday, customer service locations like hair salons and spas will be allowed to serve alcohol.
Kitty Berns co-owns Berns & Black Salon in Winnipeg. She said the salon will be taking advantage of the new rules once they are in place.
A drink would “put the extra gold star at the end of a fantastic day at the spa,” said Berns.
Berns isn’t the only one that will see benefits from the new regulations.
The province is also looking at a more flexible way of setting liquor license terms and conditions — including establishing a special category for distinct areas of a city, such as Winnipeg’s downtown sports, hospitality and entertainment district (SHED).
CentreVenture is now developing the SHED in the city’s core area and plan to create affordable housing, hotels and entertainment spots.
Manitoba Minister Dave Chomiak said areas like SHED will be able to apply for special licenses.
“We’re going to have flexibility in the regulations so that it’s possible, if the Grey Cup is here, that we’ll have you know, 20-hour opening or 24-hour opening in some locations,” said Chomiak.
The new rules will also tackle a number of “outdated” rules that haven’t been updated since the 1950s, including how small cabarets are run.
Currently, small clubs are required to have a capacity of 200 persons or more if they want to be classified as a live music or entertainment venue.
The new regulations will also allow for DJ performances to be considered live entertainment at cabarets.
In addition, there will no longer be a need for separate bar and restaurant designations, according to the new rule. The province also said it will also stop monitoring the ratio of food compared to liquor that is sold.
Previously, restaurants were required to meet a food and alcohol ratio. Under the new rules, patrons won't be required to buy food and can buy alcohol only at restaurants.
The executive director of Manitoba Restaurant and Food Association, Scott Jocelyn, said the rules requiring people to buy food if they wanted alcohol at a restaurant were outdated and expensive.
“People want to go out, and they’re on the go, and they want to grab a drink, and they don’t want to have a meal,” said Jocelyn.
“Having those opportunities available now – it’s really exciting.”
Winnipegger Johnny Perrin said it’ll mean big savings when he heads out at night.
“The fact that I don’t have to spend $13 on a meal, and I can have an extra drink – it’s a whole lot better,” said Perrin.
Provincial officials said the new regulations will also come with some increased enforcement of other rules.
As part of the changes, the province will crack down on underage drinking with swifter penalties and “party houses” that cause multiple disturbances in an area. Also police will have new tools to more easily fight bootlegging.
“This is very much a balancing act,” said Chomiak.
“We’re going to do much more risk assessment.”
The new law will also streamline the licensing and inspection process. Liquor and gaming paperwork and inspections will be through one department instead of two.
The changes are expected to take effect later this year.