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With regional restrictions against bars but not houses of worship, one U.K. business is attempting to turn its customers into a congregation.

By Jelisa Castrodale
December 01, 2020
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On Wednesday, the United Kingdom will move from its current nationwide coronavirus-related restrictions to a more regionalized approach, in which different parts of the country will be assigned one of three tiers ranging from "Medium Alert" to "Very High Alert."

The entire county of Nottinghamshire, which includes the city of Nottingham, has already been designated as Tier 3, which means that groups larger than six are not allowed to get together, even outdoors; that all indoor entertainment venues must close; and that bars, cafes, pubs, and restaurants must close for everything but takeout and delivery.

tequila shots
Credit: Lisa Romerein/Getty Images

That means that 400 Rabbits, a Mezcaleria and tequila bar in Nottingham, has to remain closed—but the Church of the 400 Rabbits would be allowed to keep its doors open. Since houses of worship are allowed to resume their services, regardless of which tier they're located in, the bar's owner has submitted the paperwork to get his tequila joint reclassified as a "Place of Meeting for Religious Worship."

“The intention of this is to be a joke but it comes from a serious place," James Aspell told Nottinghamshire Live. “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."

So that's where the Church of the 400 Rabbits comes in. "Join us as we begin our journey to answer absolutely none of life’s big questions," the 'Church' writes on its website. "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?"

Prospective members of the congregation can sign up to become either a Bunny Believer (which is free, comes with certificate of membership, and an invitation to worship) or a Reverend of the Righteous Rabbits (which costs £10, but gets you all of the above plus a t-shirt.) All of the "righteous" application fees will be donated to the Emmanuel House Support Centre Winter Appeal, which provides hot meals, access to showers and laundry facilities, and dry clothing to members of the homeless community.

Aspell said that he feels like bars have been "targeted unfairly" since gyms, massage parlors, and the city's outdoor Christmas markets are allowed to do business as (mostly) usual. This application, he says "points out the hypocrisy" of the government-mandated closures.

He also said if the bar's application to become a place of worship is approved, it will reopen; if it's not, then the 400 Rabbits will have to keep its doors closed until the government gives it an official OK to start serving Mezcal Mangaritas and shots of Clase Azul Reposado again. "We’re not doing this to offend anybody or break any rules," he said.

Bless you, Bunny Believers.