A Leicestershire pub has applied to become a church in an attempt to beat the Tier 3 Covid restrictions and stay open for business. The New Baron of Hinckley has said it would be renamed as 'The Church of New Baron' and would offer "confession rooms" staffed by the owner, Nirad Solanki.
He told the Leicester Mercury that he was simply "trying to think outside the box" and keep his punters coming together in the community.
"I think it’s the only way for our regular bread and butter people to meet up," he said. "Our pub is the epicentre of Hinckley. A lot of people depend on it, especially the older people.
"If churches and synagogues can open, why not do this?”
He added that the application to become a place of worship "wasn't really financially motivated" but instead about locals being able "to get out and see people".
Under the current guidelines, places of worship can stay open for services and private prayer in all tiers.
On Facebook, the pub played on its prospective conversion to a religious premises. "Bless you my children!" they wrote. "Who's joining us for some Holy Ale and Niri Chicken!!!"
Another post declared: "Father Niri is seeking New Baronials...Holy Ale and a whole lot more to be able to meet in communion...No harm in trying right..."
This isn't the first time that a hospitality venue has attempted to convert to a church in order to beat the new regulations. A Nottingham tequila bar called 'The 400 Rabbits' is trying to do the same thing, by issuing a formal application to become 'The Church of 400 Rabbits'.
"It's tongue-in-cheek but it's come from a serious place," explained owner James Aspell. "We think the tier restrictions announced last week and how they're targeted at hospitality businesses like mine seems incredibly unfair. It could be months before we're allowed to open again."