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Saskatchewan offers new liquor rules for strip clubs, movie theatres

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REGINA - Saskatchewan is offering new liquor laws that peel back a long-held prohibition against bars serving booze at stripteases, but the rules stop short of the full monty.

The province announced more than 70 new liquor regulations Tuesday, including the move to allow alcohol to be served at striptease performances and wet clothing contests. But it won't allow full frontal nudity and the sale of liquor to be mixed.

"Prohibition against full nudity is still going to be enforced in Saskatchewan, but we will allow some stripping, exotic dancing-type without full nudity in the province," said Donna Harpauer, minister responsible the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.

Saskatchewan is the only province that doesn't allow stripping in places where alcohol is served.

Harpauer said the new rule brings Saskatchewan in line with New Brunswick, where genitals must be covered for men and women and women must have some coverage of their breasts. Decorative nipple coverings, commonly known as pasties, are allowed under Saskatchewan's new rules.

It's been a divisive issue.

Some people think the change is uncalled for and some don't think it goes far enough, the minister said.

"We're a pretty conservative province ... in a lot of areas and so I just don't think there was a huge appetite to go down the road of full strip joints obviously in Saskatchewan. And, as I said, the feedback that the office got was very mixed."

The minister said she doesn't think the change will lead to a boom in Saskatchewan's stripping industry. She said the industry is more interested in being able to have full rather than just partial nudity.

The new rules also allow movie theatres to serve alcohol in age-restricted areas.

Other changes will allow restaurant patrons to bring their own wine to meals. Spas will be able to sell alcohol to clients getting a treatment such as a manicure. Concert halls will be able to sell alcohol for televised or pre-recorded events instead of just live performances.

Golf courses will be allowed to have more alcohol kiosks or carts on the course, instead of the current one cart or kiosk per nine holes.

Harpauer said the rules needed updating.

"The number of liquor carts you can have on a golf course, really, that's just goofy, so it's taking out the goofy in our existing regulations. There is some modernization ... spas and theatres are good examples of that."

The Opposition NDP said the changes seem largely positive.

"We want to see how they play out on the ground. We want to see how they wind up getting enforced out there in day-to-day Saskatchewan," said New Democrat Warren McCall.

"But as positive as we think some of the changes are, or could be, we think this is a half measure."

McCall said some of the changes modernize liquor laws, but they also loosen the rules to get access to booze. He said the government should make sure that there are more measures for alcohol education or treatment.

Harpauer said the regulations, such as the one allowing alcohol at wet T-shirt contests, will not appeal to everyone.

"It's younger people that believe that's part of their fun. I myself will probably not participate," she joked.

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