Owner of tequila bar registers to become a church to work around ‘targeted’ COVID restrictions

A bar owner in the United Kingdom is trying to get around the country’s COVID-19 lockdown rules by remaking the establishment as a holy watering hole.

James Aspell, the owner of 400 Rabbits Tequila and Mezcal Cocktail Bar in Nottingham, is hoping to get his business back open as he applied to be classified as a place of worship. The 34-year old registered his bar to become The Church of The Four Hundred Rabbits so that, under the UK’s current strict coronavirus restrictions, he can open the door to an official “congregation.”

“With places of worship allowed to open in all tiers we thought f–k it lets start a religion! Can’t be that hard can it!,” Aspell explained on Facebook.

“‘The Church of the 400 Rabbits’ launching as soon as we get the green light!,” he added. “Congregation daily till late.”


With places of worship allowed to open in all tiers we thought fuck it lets start a religion! Can’t be that hard can it!…

Posted by The Church of the Four Hundred Rabbits on Friday, November 27, 2020

Under current restrictions, places of worship “are allowed to welcome people from the same household or bubble,” while “bars in tier three areas can only offer takeaway and delivery,” the BBC reported.

Aspell, who opened the bar five years ago, said he initially meant the application as a joke but expressed his frustration over “the hypocrisy” of strict lockdowns.

“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,” the bar owner continued.

“We looked at the list of every business or venue that’s allowed to open under the new system and it said pretty much every other type of business apart from bars and restaurants,” Aspell said. “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.”

The bar owner noted that though the application to the registrar general in Nottingham was initially to “have a bit of fun,” the “main reason is to shine a light on the ridiculousness of the rules themselves.”

The application requires a place of worship to actually have a congregation, and Aspell plans to accomplish that through a dedicated website where people can sign up.

“We sent in all the information requested in the application form – the layout of the building and the timetable of what we’re doing etc,” he said, according to the BBC.

“Then you need to prove you have a congregation – I think the minimum is 20 households – so that’s the next step,” he added. “I’m not anticipating it being a quick decision at all. They might just throw it straight in the bin but hopefully they’ll contact me fairly soon.”

He told Nottinghamshire Live that he is still working on “how to practice the religion” but would-be members can choose to be “a bunny believer” or “a reverend of the righteous rabbits.”

“With the new restrictions we’re forced to close and it could be months before we can reopen. We don’t have a food offering so even if we were in Tier 2, we couldn’t open,” Aspell told the outlet. “We feel like we’ve been targeted unfairly, to an extent and it seems wrong. Everything from gyms to massage parlours can stay open and even the Christmas markets are happening – that was the point when I thought, this is ridiculous.”


One month til xmas eve…

Dear Santa,

For xmas could we please have a government who aren’t determined to completely fuck the hospitality industry at every opportunity.


The Rabbits 🐰

Posted by The Church of the Four Hundred Rabbits on Tuesday, November 24, 2020


“This time of year it’s usually all guns blazing but instead I’m sat at home putting my Christmas decorations up,” Aspell told Nottinghamshire Live.

“We have no intention of opening unless the application is granted or when restrictions are lifted,” he said. “If we were to open we’d follow government guidelines and I don’t think we’d be selling alcohol. We might be able to adapt in a different way and have some fun with it.”

“We’re not doing this to offend anybody or break any rules,” the bar owner added.

Meanwhile, Aspell noted the response has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“You might just save 2020,” George Maroda Phillips commented on Aspell’s post.

The tequila bar could be “a spiritual place of healing for sure,” Facebook user Terry James Hayfield said.

“The only reason I’d take up a religion. I’m in!” Leigh Harrison replied while Amy Gascoyne declared, “I will take a tequila baptism any day!”


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