Bar applies to be classed church so it can open under tier three

James Aspell said the move was a ‘tongue and cheek joke’ (Picture: Facebook/The Church of the Four Hundred Rabbits)

A bar owner has applied for his business to be registered as a place of worship so it will be allowed to open under tier three restrictions.

James Aspell, who owns the tequila bar 400 Rabbits, said the move was a ‘joke’ but that it ‘comes from a serious place’ to make a point about the Government’s ‘unfair targeting’ of the hospitality industry in its new tier system. 

The five-year-old tequila boozer is in Nottingham, where bars, restaurants and pubs will only allowed to offer takeaways under the harshest Covid-19 measures.

Places of worship are allowed to open but people can only attend with their households or bubbles and are not allowed to mix with other households. 

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In a bid to get around the rules, Mr Aspell, 34, has asked the registrar general to reopen his business as the Church of 400 Rabbits. 

He said: ‘With the new restrictions we’re forced to close and it could be months before we can reopen. 

The owner of 400 Rabbits, James Aspell, applied to have his tequila bar registered as a place of worship so they can open under tier three after lockdown ends.

The owner said they were not intending to break any rules and would wait for approval as a place of worship before opening (Picture: Facebook/The Church of the Four Hundred Rabbits)
The owner of 400 Rabbits is trying to get people to sign up to his congregation (Picture: Facebook/The Church of the Four Hundred Rabbits)

‘We don’t have a food offering so even if we were in tier two we couldn’t open.

‘We feel like we’ve been targeted unfairly to an extent and it seems wrong. Everything from gyms to massage parlours can stay open. 

‘Even the Christmas markets are happening – that was the point when I thought “this is ridiculous”. So we have sent in an application to register as a place of worship.’

The bar owner that he did not want to offend anyone and did not intend on breaking any rules but he hoped to ‘shine a light on the ridiculousness of the rules themselves’. 

Mr Aspell said he has a plan to get around the 1855 Worship Registration Act’s requirement asking people to be signed up to the congregation. 

He intends to set up a dedicated website to recruit at least 20 households to back his church. 

Mr Aspell opened his bar five years ago (Picture: Facebook/The Church of the Four Hundred Rabbits)

The bar’s facebook page posted: ‘With places of worship allowed to open in all tiers we thought let’s start a religion! Can’t be that hard can it?

‘The Church of the 400 Rabbits’ launching as soon as we get the green light!

‘Congregation daily til late. Give us this day our daily #mezcal.’

The Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘The data is clear, indoor environments in which people spend longer periods of time, like restaurants, bars and pubs intrinsically carry higher risk.

‘We have had to make the difficult decision to prioritise schools and workplaces, which we deem absolutely essential. 

‘While hospitality plays a huge role in the UK economy, our communities and our way of life, it is absolutely essential that we limit the number of indoor environments to bear down on transmission.’

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