Tequila bar applies to become church amid COVID-19 lockdown rules

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A tequila bar owner is trying to get around the UK’s strict coronavirus restrictions by adding some holy to his spirits — and registering as a church.

James Aspell, 34, posted photos of his formal application to make his shuttered “400 Rabbits Tequila and Mezcal Cocktail Bar” in Nottingham an official place of meeting for religious worship.

He was also shown smiling and giving the thumbs-up while mailing the form for the now-reverentially named Church of the Four Hundred Rabbits.

To get approved, he now needs people to sign up and say they are part of his congregation — telling Nottinghamshire Live that they can register as a “bunny believer” or “reverend of the righteous rabbits.”

“With places of worship allowed to open in all tiers we thought f–k it let’s start a religion!” he explained on Facebook to his new congregation, who would otherwise be barred under the UK’s strict lockdown rules, which would only allow him to serve takeout if he sold food.

“Can’t be that hard can it!” he added, promising “Congregation daily till late.”

James Aspell
James AspellThe Church of the Four Hundred R

Aspell told Nottinghamshire Live that while it started as a joke it “comes from a serious place” at his anger over “the hypocrisy” of strict lockdowns he thinks are unfairly hurting bars.

“This time of year it’s usually all guns blazing but instead I’m sat at home putting my Christmas decorations up,” he complained of the popular bar he opened five years ago.

He admits that even if his house of worship application got approved, he would likely not be allowed to serve booze. Instead, Aspell hopes “to adapt in a different way and have some fun with it.”

“We’re not doing this to offend anybody or break any rules,” he stressed.

Judging by social media for his bar — sorry, church — he has an eager congregation waiting to sip his holy water.

“The only reason I’d take up a religion. I’m in!” Leigh Harrison replied to his post, while Rebecca Barker said, “I want to worship at the church of mezcal.”

“The only religion I would get on board with,” Ken Scott said, offering “hopes and prayers for your salvation and delicious drinks.”

“You might just save 2020,” George Maroda Phillips told Aspell, while Terry James Hayfield suggested the tequila bar would be “a spiritual place of healing for sure.”