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Province removing red tape in alcohol sales

The maze of red tape enshrouding alcohol sales in Manitoba could be removed as early as the end of the year.

The Selinger government is tabling legislation to modernize the regulations governing the sale of booze - a set of rules that has not been modernized substantially since the 1950s.

Changes are expected to include a reduction in the number of liquor-license categories in Manitoba and a relaxation of food-to-alcohol sales ratios.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Changes are expected to include a reduction in the number of liquor-license categories in Manitoba and a relaxation of food-to-alcohol sales ratios. Photo Store

As promised in January, the province intends to reduce the number of liquor-license categories from 12 to only three: one for manufacturers, a second for vendors and other sales outlets and a third for establishments that serve alcohol.

The province will also eliminate the requirement for bars and restaurants to report food-vs.-alcohol ratios, standardize opening hours and ease advertising restrictions.

The requirement for live music venues to have at least 200 seats will be eliminated, allowing the opportunity for more small clubs to open. There will be no more restrictions on DJs.

The changes should eventually allow restaurants to remove barriers between their food and alcohol sections. But the details of the new regulations have yet to be released.

There will be a two-year transition period between the current and new regulations, said NDP cabinet minister Dave Chomiak, who is responsible for gaming.

Along with easing up restrictions, the province will come down harder on booze cans, bootleggers and other illegal activities, he said.

The intent is for the legislation to pass and have regulations in place by the end of 2013.

History

Updated on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 1:00 PM CDT: Adds timeline.

1:35 PM: Adds details from news conference.

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