Is It Safe To Take Children To A Pub?

Children enjoying the pub with family

It's been quite a summer already, so we understand your burning desire for a quick pint or a languorous gin and tonic.  

But is it safe to head down to your local with the kids? Lockdown eased on 4 July, and many businesses opened their doors for customers to return in a socially distanced way.  What does that mean for you and your family? How can you make an informed decision about popping into the pub with your clan in tow?

What Risk Does Covid-19 Pose To Kids?

The weight of evidence suggests that even if children have an underlying health condition, very few develop severe symptoms of Covid-19. Adults are significantly more likely to become ill from the virus.

Though the risk of serious complications in children is low, it's obviously a good idea to minimise your child's potential exposure to the virus. Social distancing is, of course, vital, as is regular hand washing, face coverings for older children, and keeping fingers away from the eyes, mouth, and nose.

Vigilance by parents is recommended with regard to taking your kids to potentially busy venues such as pubs. If you're likely to be distracted by friends, or find yourself in businesses where social distancing is difficult because of size, this will obviously heighten the risk.

The advice is to be sensible, take responsibility, and always follow government guidance on best practice. Great Ormond Street Hospital regularly review and update their advice: if you want to read over this yourself, you can find it here.

Firstly, Are Pubs Allowing Families?

It depends on the pub in question. Various strategies have been implemented by different venues, and pubs are no different, so we'd advise checking in with your local to see whether or not  they're open to groups with children -- and, if so, what ages they're allowing in.  

As a rough guide, large suburban pubs that previously specialised in Sunday roasts and family gatherings are more likely to still admit children than small, inner-city pubs, though there are likely to be many exceptions.

Enjoying pub grub

Before You Leave...

We've included a handy checklist of things that you may want to bring with you before departing for your pub visit. At the time of writing (July 2020), government advice is to avoid public transport unless essential, so drive, cycle or walk if you can.

However you get to the pub, the following items may come in useful.

  • Mask, or other face covering
  • Hand sanitiser
  • A pen (for filling in contact tracing information without using a communal pen)
  • Card for payment (many places are cashless to reduce contact)
  • Tissues (if you feel you need them)
  • Gloves (again, if you feel you need them)

What Can You Expect Once You Get There?

Again, this varies between venues. Tables need to be socially distanced, so there will be fewer people in the pub, and pre-booking is a likely requirement. Remember that you can only attend with your own household or one other, as outlined by the government's advice on social bubbles.  When you first get there, you may have to provide your details -- usually a name and number -- so that an efficient track and trace system could be implemented were it required.

New queueing and/or one way systems may be in place. Extra cleaning and disinfecting is a given. Screens may be in place to protect both staff and customers, and staff might wear PPE. If you're allowed to order at the bar, you won't be encouraged to hang around. Table service is generally the recommended practice, but some pub chains have introduced apps so that you can order and pay in advance. Otherwise, expect to be paying via contactless measures -- no cash allowed!

What Particularly Affects My Kids?

At the time of writing (July 2020), government advice does not require children to wear masks if in a pub. However, you should refer to the pub's own ruling on this, and be aware that you might need to bring face coverings for times when you leave your seat.

Soft play areas are likely to be unavailable, and those little pots of felt-tip pens will not be liberally distributed. The bar staff need to protect themselves by minimising contact as much as possible. Be sure to bring your own entertainment instead.  

There are likely to be strict policies surrounding toilets too, so check that your kids understand if they need to queue and how to do so. Some pub chains, like Greene King, are using a traffic light system to make it really clear if the facilities are free or not. (Why didn't they do this years ago?)

And If My Local Isn't Allowing Kids At This Time?

There are always creative ways to grab some pub grub!

If the pub you had in mind isn't allowing children to sit in, consider ordering a takeaway from them to enjoy in a nearby park. It's very likely that they will still be offering food and drink to go, so this is an ideal option. Spacious grass + sunny day + pub takeaway = perfect meal out!

Should this not be your preference, we've got a host of child-friendly restaurants summarised here -- just be sure to double-check with them that they're open and taking bookings before you grab your shoes.

See also: the best riverside pubs in London



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

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Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

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