03/14/2014 02:30 EDT | Updated 05/14/2014 05:59 EDT

Wine at the hairdresser, other changes, loom for Manitoba liquor laws

WINNIPEG - Manitobans will soon have more places to drink alcohol, and businesses will face fewer rules about when and where they can serve.

The NDP government says sweeping changes to liquor regulations first announced last May will take effect April 1.

Alcohol will be allowed at spas or hair salons, and beer and wine will be available in restaurants without ordering a meal.

For businesses, there's less red tape, including a one-step process for obtaining liquor and gambling licences.

The array of liquor licence categories will be reduced to three from 12, and liquor licences will be available for live entertainment venues with fewer than 200 people.

The government says it will also be easier for businesses to obtain special licences to extend their hours for special events. One trial run was done for the Olympic men's hockey final, when bars were allowed to open at 5 a.m.

The changes are part of an overhaul of the province's liquor laws, many of which date back to the 1950s.

The Manitoba Hotel Association says customers will appreciate having more options.

Despite the modernization, many rules that govern how booze is consumed are not being changed. Minimum prices and a requirement to have at least three people share a large pitcher of beer will remain in place.

The province's ban on all-you-can-drink events, except for private events such as open-bar wedding receptions, will also stay as is.