Tequila bar registers as a church in bid to open under Tier 3

29 November 2020, 14:47

Nottingham tequila bar owner James Aspell has filed paperwork to register it as a place of worship.
Nottingham tequila bar owner James Aspell has filed paperwork to register it as a place of worship. Picture: James Aspell

By Joe Cook

A tequila bar owner in Nottingham has filed paperwork to register it as a place of worship, in a light-hearted attempt to open despite coronavirus restrictions.

James Aspell told LBC the Church of the 400 Rabbits is now looking for a congregation and will launch a website next week, to “outline our belief system I suppose, our scriptures, what we stand for”.

People will be able to sign up as either a “Bunny Believer” or donate £10 to the Emmanuel House Support Centre Winter Appeal and become “ordained as a Reverend of the Righteous Rabbits”.

The church’s website calls on people to “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?!”

People will be able to sign up as either a “Bunny Believer” or become “ordained as a Reverend of the Righteous Rabbits”.
People will be able to sign up as either a “Bunny Believer” or become “ordained as a Reverend of the Righteous Rabbits”. Picture: James Aspell

Mr Aspell told LBC while the bid to become a place of worship is “a lighthearted joke... it is coming from a serious place” as the hospitality business continues to feel the force of the coronavirus restrictions.

Under the stricter 3-tier system in England, which will follow the national lockdown, pubs and bars must close in Tier 2 and 3, unless they can operate as a restaurant.

Places of worship can remain open under all tiers, but congregations are banned from socialising with people outside of their household or support bubble while there.

Read more: Coronavirus: New tier 1, 2 and 3 rules after England lockdown

Read more: Hospitality business owners warn of 'devastating' impact of Tier 3 restrictions

Nottingham is currently in Tier 3 and Mr Aspell said his bar “will probably be closed for the next few months with the new regulations, as even if we drop down into Tier 2 we don't serve food, we don't have the capacity to do it so we still wouldn't be allowed to open.

“This is despite the fact that all around us we have got gyms, massage parlours, places of worship, they're even going ahead with the Christmas market in Nottingham city centre," he explained.

“Two minutes outside our door, which is closed, there will be a whole Christmas market going ahead, full of crowds of people."

Read more: England could be out of restrictions ‘by spring’ if vaccine rollout successful, Raab says

Mr Aspell said he expected the application to be “refused straight away” but “wanted to shine a light on the ridiculousness of the regulations and how targeted they seem towards hospitality venues like ours”.

"Obviously all our staff have had to go on furlough, we have had to close numerous times,” he added.

Read more: Strict Covid tiers ‘until Easter’ as Tory rebellion grows

“When the guidelines came out for the new tiers last week it was just such a massive kick in the teeth.

“We were ready to open, we followed all the guidelines exactly as they have been laid out for us all year by the government.”

The Nottingham bar owner noted the bar had “no intention of opening unless either we are allowed to via hospitality rules being relaxed or if get to the point where we are accepted as a place of worship and then again we will fall all guidelines that are laid out for a place of worship."