At Easter time we visit the Asylum

Most of the time, New Zealand is “Outside the Asylum”: free of laws and regulations that a reasonable person would consider crazy. That all changes at Easter, when in the space of one weekend:

* You can’t buy alcohol off-license on Friday, you can on Saturday, but you can’t on Sunday.
* Unless you’re at a tavern with the primary intention of dining, in which case they can serve alcohol with your meal.
* But the tavern is only allowed to be open to sell ready-to-eat food, and whether or not that counts as dining is hard to tell.
* If you’re at a restaurant or on a ferry, alcohol is fine. But they can only sell ready-to-eat food, too.
* After your meal, you can visit a hairdresser to get your hair cut, but you can’t buy any hair product to take home with you. Except on Saturday, when you can.
* On your way home you can’t get a takeaway coffee, but you can buy a muffin from a coffee cart.
* Your afternoon plans in the garden are sweet as, no problem, so long as you visit a garden centre for your supplies, and so long as it’s Sunday. On Friday, gardening is right out.
* Even on Sunday you’ll be out of luck at your local hardware store, which can’t open at all, despite being 50% garden centre.
* Unless you’re in Queenstown, where none of the above restrictions apply.
* And this is all in aid of a religious celebration with limited observance even among its followers, who are rapidly falling in importance within New Zealand (from 69% of the population in 1991 to 43% in 2013), and yet who still get to inflict bizarre and groundless religious prohibitions on the majority.

This is now a secular country. The 2013 Census recorded more than half of New Zealanders as being without religion. How much longer before we can hope for a referendum to do away with these crazy religious restrictions?

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