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

Appeal to Canterbury businesses with cooling towers

Friday 12 June 2015Media release4 minutes to read

Canterbury District Health Board and Christchurch City Council officials are working with representatives from the air conditioning industry to contact businesses in an industrial area in Hillsborough to ensure water-based cooling systems are being properly maintained.

This is in response to a small cluster of Legionnaires' disease cases in the area. Since the beginning of April, laboratory testing has confirmed that six adults have been hospitalised by the bacteria Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1. Possible sources for this type of Legionnaires' disease include cooling towers and evaporative condensers.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink is urging businesses in the area to sample and treat their cooling towers and evaporative condensers.

“The Legionella bacteria can live in water-based cooling systems, and can become dangerous when airborne. Businesses with these systems need to regularly sample and, where necessary, treat them to prevent the bacteria from circulating,” says Dr Pink.

On 8 April a contaminated cooling tower was identified and treated. It is possible that this cooling tower was the source of all four cases notified in April. Two more cases were identified during May, indicating there maybe another source.

Dr Pink says the risk to an individual living or working in the area of contracting Legionnaires' disease is very low.

Of the six cases, four were female and two male. They ranged in age from 49-79, and all have links to the area. All have been discharged from hospital.

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include influenza-like symptoms, a fever, muscle aches and a headache. If you are concerned, or displaying these symptoms, please contact your general practice team.

Home air conditioners and heat pumps, and vehicle air conditioners, are not a source of legionella bacteria.

Frequently Asked Questions​
When did the CDHB first become aware of the cases?
Cases were notified to Community and Public Health on the following days:

1 April*
8 April
9 April
14 April
17 May*
25 May
* Both these cases live and work outside the area. Investigations have discovered links to the area.​

What did the CDHB do when it became aware of the cases?

Community and Public Health contacted each case within 24 hours to investigate possible sources of the disease. These investigations revealed that all six cases have links to the industrial area. Three live in the area, 2 are regular visitors, and 1 works in the area.​

What has been done to identify the source?
This form of bacteria is known to live in water-based cooling systems.

On 8 April a cooling tower linked to the second case was found to be contaminated with the Legionella bacteria. The cooling tower was immediately treated.

As it can take up to 10 days for symptoms of the disease to develop, it is possible that three other cases notified during April were also linked to this cooling tower.

In May two new notifications were received, indicating the possibility of another source. The case notified on 17 May lives outside the area, and the case notified on 25 May lives inside the area.

Officials are working with representatives from the Institute of Refrigeration, Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers Inc. (IRHACE) and the Climate Control Companies Association (CCCA) to identify businesses known to have cooling towers and evaporative condensers.

What area is being focused on?

Businesses in the industrial area within these streets:

Garlands Road and Opawa Road intersection, down Port Hills Road, to the Tunnel Road turn off
Tunnel Road to Ferry Road
Ferry Road to Radley Street
Radley Street to Garlands Road
Garlands Road to Opawa Road


Are people living or working in the area at risk?
The risk to an individual living in the area of contracting Legionnaires' disease is considered very low. The last case was notified 19 days ago.

Adequately maintaining cooling towers and evaporative condensers is the only way to remove the risk completely.

What are the requirements on workplaces?

Workplaces have a general legal responsibility to provide and maintain a safe working environment for employees, ensure that plant is safe and that employees are not exposed to hazards. Preventing Legionella bacteria from circulating by regularly testing and cleaning cooling towers is important in ensuring a safe working environment.

What do businesses with cooling towers and evaporative condensers need to do to maintain them?

Up-to-date information, advice and guidance for minimising the risk of significant contamination in waters of cooling towers and cold and heated water distribution systems can be found on the Ministry of Health website:

What about heat pumps?

Home air conditioners and heat pumps, and vehicle air conditioners, are NOT a source of Legionella​ bacteria.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Legionnaires' Disease include:

Influenza-like symptoms
Muscle aches

​If you are concerned or displaying these symptoms please contact your general practice team.​


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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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