A Nottingham tequila bar has officially applied to become a place of worship in a bid to beat the tier 3 restrictions and remain open for business. The 400 Rabbits bar owner James Aspell said he filed the application to demonstrate how "unfair" the rules are for hospitality venues.
From this Wednesday, bars located in tier 3 areas will only be allowed to offer takeaway and delivery services, while places of worship are permitted to welcome people from the same household or bubble.
Aspell said he had applied to Nottingham's registrar general with the intention of reopening his bar as 'The Church of 400 Rabbits'.
"It's tongue-in-cheek but it's come from a serious place," he said. "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."
Aspell complained that the other premises permitted to open under the new system are comprised of "pretty much every other type of business apart from bars and restaurants".
"In Nottingham they're even allowing the Christmas market to go ahead, which is right outside our door - so there'll be crowds of people attending and we're not even allowed to open," he added.
The businessman said while the application as meant to be a "bit of fun", he also hopes it will "shine a light on the ridiculousness of the rules themselves".
As per the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855, Aspell must recruit some members if he is to successfully become a church. "I think the minimum is 20 households - so that's the next step," he said, noting that he has set up a dedicated website to get people involved - members can choose to be a 'bunny believer' or 'a reverend of the righteous rabbits'.
Credit: Facebook/The Church of the Four Hundred Rabbits
On the 'Church' section of its website, the bar declares makes an invitation to prospective members:
"Join us as we begin our journey to answer absolutely none of life’s big questions. Such questions as why are we here, what’s the meaning of life, why didn’t they just fly the eagles to mordor and why did dominos stop making the double decadence pizza base?!
"Our aim is simple, to offer a place of worship to our deity the mezcal bunny. A place where you can drink mezcal without having to order a carvery dinner alongside it, a place where you aren’t kicked out into the cold heartless night at 10pm, a place where you can get away from the busy gyms, supermarkets, shops, beauty salons, massage parlours, cinemas, theatres, sports venues, xmas markets, schools, universities, betting shops and literally everywhere else that will be allowed to remain open while pubs and bars will remain shut .
"Our application to be recognised as an official place of worship and open our doors has been submitted to the registrar general. You can support our application by joining our congregation."