Nottingham bar owner registers venue as a church in bid to open legally under Tier 3

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A tequila bar owner is trying to register his Nottingham venue as a church in a bid to stay open legally while under Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions as it will be a place of worship. 

Pubs and bars are only allowed to serve takeaway alcohol under Tier 3 rules, which will come into effect in Nottingham on Wednesday. 

Places of worship, however, are allowed to have visitors, but only from people within the same household or support bubble.

In a bid to ‘point out hypocrisy,’ of Covid rules, owner James Aspell, 34, has applied for the 400 Rabbits Tequila and Mezcal Cocktail Bar to become ‘The Church of The Four Hundred Rabbits’. 

James Aspell, owner of 400 Rabbits in Nottingham, has applied for his tequila bar to become a place of a worship so that it can welcome visitors when Tier 3 lockdown rules come into effect on Wednesday 

Mr Aspell is in need of people to sign up to his congregation, and he is offering members a choice of becoming either a ‘bunny believer’ or a ‘reverend of the righteous rabbits’.

He said: ‘The intention of this is to be a joke but it comes from a serious place.

‘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.

‘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.

Tier 3 regulations dictate that clubs and bars are only allowed to serve takeaway drinks, but places of worship can welcome visitors

Tier 3 regulations dictate that clubs and bars are only allowed to serve takeaway drinks, but places of worship can welcome visitors

Tier 3 regulations dictate that clubs and bars are only allowed to serve takeaway drinks, but places of worship can welcome visitors 

The Nottingham bar has made its application to register as a place of worship, and is now seeking out members for its congregation

The Nottingham bar has made its application to register as a place of worship, and is now seeking out members for its congregation

The Nottingham bar has made its application to register as a place of worship, and is now seeking out members for its congregation

Mr Aspell said he made the application as a joke, but also to 'point out the hypocrisy' of coronavirus measures that are keeping venues closed in the run up to Christmas

Mr Aspell said he made the application as a joke, but also to 'point out the hypocrisy' of coronavirus measures that are keeping venues closed in the run up to Christmas

Mr Aspell said he made the application as a joke, but also to ‘point out the hypocrisy’ of coronavirus measures that are keeping venues closed in the run up to Christmas 

‘So we have sent in an application to register as a place of worship.’ James, who opened the bar five years ago, said the application has been sent to the registrar general in Nottingham for consideration.’

Government guidance for Tier 3 areas states: ‘Hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed – they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.’ 

MailOnline has approached Nottingham City Council for a comment. 

From this week, The Church of Four Hundred Rabbits will be signing people up to its congregation through a new website.

Despite the jovial nature of the application, he said it ‘points out the hypocrisy’ of the coronavirus measures.

He added: ‘This time of year it’s usually all guns blazing but instead I’m sat at home putting my Christmas decorations up.

England's national lockdown ends on Wednesday, with a return to the three-tiered system set to resume

England's national lockdown ends on Wednesday, with a return to the three-tiered system set to resume

England’s national lockdown ends on Wednesday, with a return to the three-tiered system set to resume  

Can pubs and bars in Tier 3 areas stay open? 

Pubs and bars are unable to welcome visitors in areas under Tier 3 lockdown rules from Wednesday morning.

While venues can open in Tier 1, and in Tier 2 as long as they serve food, restrictions are tighter in areas with highers rates of Covid-19.

Government guidance for Tier 3 states: ‘Hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed – they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.’

‘We have no intention of opening unless the application is granted or when restrictions are lifted.

‘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.’

In a post on Facebook, 400 Rabbits said: ‘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.’

James said the response has been ‘overwhelmingly positive’, with one person branding the idea as ‘genius’

Another person commented: ‘The only religion I would get on board with. Hopes and prayers for your salvation and delicious drinks.’

One woman added: ‘I will take a tequila baptism any day!’

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