Hospital visiting guidelines updated 20 July 2022: Hospital visitors must wear a surgical/medical paper mask. Fabric face coverings are no longer acceptable. See our COVID-19 pages for detailed information about hospital visiting guidelines, COVID-19 tests and care in the community advice. See for information about vaccinations.

We are at ORANGE according to the NZ COVID-19 Protection Framework

Last updated:
20 July 2022

Mask exemptions accepted for people seeking treatment
Any member of the public with a mask exemption is welcome in all our facilities when attending to receive health care and *treatment. Please show your mask exemption card and appointment letter to staff at the entrance.

*Treatment includes: coming into the Emergency Department, outpatient appointments,  surgery or a procedure.

For visitors to all facilities effective from Wednesday 20 July 2022

With the recent resurgence in cases in Canterbury, largely due to the Omicron BA.5 subvariant we are seeing an increase in demand right across the health system. Presentations to our Christchurch ED and Ashburton’s AAU are higher than ever and admission rates are high, which means we have a shortage of resourced beds.

Recently, we have seen too many unwell people coming to visit someone in hospital and too many that cannot or will not wear a medical mask. This increases the risk to vulnerable people in hospital. For these reasons we need to everything we can to minimise these risks.

We have therefore tightened visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury hospitals and health facilities.

Kia whakahaumaru te whānau, me ngā iwi katoa – this is to keep everybody safe:

  • One visitor per patient in the hospital at any given time, except where stated otherwise in the ‘exceptions’ section below.
  • No visitors under 16 to any part of our facilities.
  • No visitors to COVID +ve patients other than in exceptional circumstances.
  • No eating or drinking at the bedside or anywhere other than cafes or areas designated for eating/drinking, as taking your mask off puts patients at risk.
  • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms (even if they have tested negative) or have had a recent tummy bug.
  • Do not visit if you are COVID +ve or a household contact of someone who has tested positive
  • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all times at all sites and will be provided if people don’t have them. Mask exemptions do not apply in our facilities – people who cannot tolerate a mask cannot visit at this time.
  • Hand sanitiser stations are visible and must be used.

By sticking to the rules above, you help keep our patients, staff, other visitors and yourself safe. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as our staff work hard to protect and care for some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Exceptions to the ‘one visitor’ policy

  • Exceptions can apply in some circumstances where trusted whānau members provide assistance, reassurance and other support for therapeutic care or on compassionate grounds – please talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss this before you come to hospital to visit. For whānau with an essential support role as a Partner in Care – again, please check with the ward’s Charge Nurse before you come to hospital to visit.
  • People attending Christchurch ED or Ashburton AAU can have one support person with them.
  • Women in labour and in the birthing suite can have two named support people + their community LMC/midwife if they have one – for the duration of the birth only. All other women on the Maternity Ward are allowed one support person for the duration of their stay in our facilities at Christchurch Women’s Hospital and other maternity units. Only one support person can be with each woman in the maternity ward, and one support person for maternity clinic appointments. No under 16s are allowed to visit or attend appointments.
  • Parents/caregivers can be with their baby in NICU.
  • Parents/caregivers are able to be with their child in hospital (Except Children’s Haematology and Oncology Day patients where only one parent or caregiver is permitted).
  • People requiring support when attending an appointment can have one support person. Please let the relevant service know if you need this so they are able to accommodate your request.

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • To avoid them becoming infected with COVID-19 and passing it one, visitors to COVID-19 positive patients will not be allowed except in extenuating circumstances – by prior agreement with the Charge Nurse Manager only, and wearing an N95 mask.
  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, facetime, zoom etc.

You must NOT visit the hospital if you

  • are a household contact of a COVID-19 positive case
  • are COVID-19 positive
  • Have a cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you are testing negative for COVID-19)

Exceptions for people with disabilities

An exception will be made for people with disabilities who are in hospital or have to attend an outpatient appointment – where they need a support person to access health services. For example, a sign language interpreter, support person for someone with a learning disability, or someone to assist with mobility. The support person is in addition to the one permitted visitor.

Everyone visiting our facilities must wear a mask, no exceptions

While we appreciate that some people have legitimate reasons for being exempt from wearing a mask and may even have an official card to confirm this, people who cannot or will not wear a mask cannot visit someone in hospital or attend hospital, other than to access healthcare treatment*. This is another measure to minimise the risk to vulnerable patients.

*healthcare treatment includes: Emergency Department care, outpatient appointments, surgery or a procedure. 

Patients and visitors should also read the additional more detailed visiting guidelines for each specific hospital.

More COVID-19 information

Canterbury Health System Quality Accounts 2018

WellNow Canterbury is our community health magazine which goes to every Canterbury mailbox twice a year. This spring edition doubles as the Canterbury Health System’s Quality Accounts, to provide a picture of how well our Health System is meeting Canterbury’s health needs, and showcase our work to improve services and standards of care.

The online-only version features a How we measure up section, charting our performance against the National Health Targets, and quality and safety markers as set by the Health Quality & Safety Commission, as well as other key measures.

You can read the full online magazine in two different formats:

View on Download PDF (5MB)

For a ‘taster’ of some of the stories inside, click on the individual links below.

Consumer experience

South Island’s only Hyperbaric Unit – not just for divers!
Upgrades to Christchurch Hospital’s hyperbaric chamber have brought the facility in line with Australasian quality standards – and made the experience much more pleasant for patients.

Prostate cancer: Making time for those who matter most
A pilot to reduce waiting times and waive unnecessary appointments has improved the experience of patients receiving prostate cancer treatment by freeing up their time.

Staying well

Avoiding a Legionnaires’ spring spike
If you’re planning on doing some spring gardening, learn about the five easy actions you can take to prevent Legionnaires’ disease when dealing with potting mix and compost.

Fush, whānau and Fresh Air
Fush eatery is the latest venue to sign up to the Fresh Air project – a collaboration between Canterbury DHB and the Cancer Society, along with more than 50 other venues in Canterbury that choose to make their outdoor eating areas smokefree.

Preventing harm

Making a big noise about the ‘silent epidemic’, hepatitis C
Approximately 50,000 New Zealanders have hepatitis C. Knowing what puts you at risk of hepatitis C and getting tested is the key to preventing long-term liver damage caused by what’s now a curable illness.

MOTOmed – keeping people mobile and moving
We illustrate how our Physiotherapy Service is using exercise machines designed to prevent muscle loss among those recovering from a stroke, and the creative way some of its staff are making exercise more engaging for patients.


Inspiring Māori health through relationships
Read how Kia Kaha Chemist is working to improve health equity and outcomes for tangata whenua by strengthening the relationship between kaumātua (Māori elders), their pharmacist, and their General Practice team.

Clearer pathway for people seeking support with alcohol or drug addiction
We take a closer look at how Christchurch Central Service is making a difference to people seeking help for addiction, and how the Service is responding to the change in the primary substances people are wanting to be free from.

Making it better

Focusing on the Canterbury Eye Service
Through hard work and collaboration, the Canterbury Eye Service reduced an overdue Ophthalmology follow-up waiting list of 3,347 patients down to 719 in one year.

Treating early-stage, inoperable lung cancer faster
A state-of-the-art radiation therapy technique delivering a high radiation dose to a very small area has reduced the number and length of appointments required when receiving lung cancer treatment, as well as the demand for specialised equipment.

Facilities redevelopment

New Outpatients now open
We celebrate the mammoth effort that has gone into getting Christchurch Outpatients ready and open for business, and cover the three principles underpinning the Canterbury DHB outpatient care model.

Acute Services building
Scheduled to open in 2019, more than 600 contractors are beginning the finishing works.

How we measure up

The National Patient Experience Survey
Check out the 2017/18 results of New Zealand’s largest health survey.

Falls prevention
Over the past year, the Canterbury Falls Prevention Programme has helped over 1,650 people aged 75+ years in reducing their risk of a fall. Read on to find out more…


Download (pdf, 5MB)

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Page last updated: 6 November 2019

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