Tequila bar files as a place of worship to skirt pandemic restrictions

Ornate church altar
Photo: picture alliance (Getty Images)

My mother believes that church isn’t a building—it’s a congregation. I believe that church isn’t a congregation—it’s Patrick Swayze’s Road House. And now a UK tequila bar hopes to prove that church can also involve a spiritual connection with distilled agave.

As of Wednesday, the United Kingdom has eased its nationwide pandemic mitigation lockdown, instead moving to a regional system. The new system assigns different parts of the country to one of three tiers ranging from “Medium Alert” (Tier 1) to “Very High Alert” (Tier 3). 400 Rabbits, a Nottingham Mezcaleria and tequila bar, happens to reside in a Tier 3 area, which means the bar has to remain closed. Meanwhile, houses of worship are allowed to resume their services in Tier 3 areas—which is why, as Food & Wine reported, the bar’s owner recently filed to reclassify the tequila joint as a “Place of Meeting for Religious Worship.” Behold: The Church of the 400 Rabbits.

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“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.” Unless, of course, Aspell can get God on his side.

According to the Church’s website, interested parties can join the congregation for free as a Bunny Believer. Die-hard fans can also pay to become a Reverend of the Righteous Rabbits, a distinction that includes a very cool T-shirt. The Church will donate application fees for the latter to the Emmanuel House Support Centre Winter Appeal, which supports members of the homeless community. Is operating a tequila bar in a pandemic ill-advised? Almost definitely. Is the plan creative? Yes, yes it is. O come, all ye faithful.

Staff writer @ The Takeout, joke writer elsewhere. Wrangling dogs and pork shoulder in Chicago.

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DISCUSSION

Sadly, this makes as much sense as anything, since restrictions are so nonsensical. It never made that much sense to vary restrictions by type of business. The factors are numbers, crowding, and potentially infectious behaviors like signing, talking loudly, and taking your mask off to eat or drink. Restrictions should apply to the types of activities that increase the risk factors. Small churches should not be open. Large churches where people can remain distant are kind of a maybe, dependent on restricting singing and any kind of communion.

And pondering this makes me want to go worship with some mezcal now anyway.