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

Call to action to quit

Monday 30 May 2016Media release3 minutes to read

Canterbury smokers are being called to action to quit for the sake of their family and protect them from the dangers of second hand smoke.

What better time to do it than on World Smokefree Day tomorrow – Tuesday May 31.

The World Health Organization says tobacco kills up to half of its users – or about six million people worldwide each year. Globally 600,000 are killed by passive (second hand) smoke. In New Zealand 5000 people a year die from smoking or second hand smoking – about 500 of those deaths are in people inhaling other people’s smoke.

Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says many of those affected by passive smoking are children.

“Second-hand smoke can result in a child experiencing serious respiratory infections, asthma, behavioural and learning difficulties and in the worst case scenario cot death,” Dr Humphrey says.

The health costs of smoking are about $2 billion per year, despite the revenue from tobacco tax collecting only $1 billion.

“We all pay for smoking related diseases. The tragedies borne by families of people with smoking related diseases are enormous: strokes, heart attacks, chronic respiratory disorders, lung cancer and many other cancers,” Dr Humphrey says.

“Overall, one in two people who smoke will die of a smoking related illness and the life expectancy of smokers is 11 years less than non-smokers. Smoking is also a significant contributor to the difference in life expectancy between Maori and Non-Maori.”

According to the last Census, the smoking rate in New Zealand is 15.1 percent. Canterbury’s is 14 percent, which means there are about 62,000 smokers in the Canterbury area and about 80 percent of smokers regret starting smoking, while 65 percent have tried to quit in the past five years.

“Most smokers want to quit, and there are immediate and long-term health benefits for those who do,” Dr Humphrey says.

“The risk of premature death from smoking decreases soon after someone quits smoking and continues to do so for at least 10 to 15 years.”

Dr Humphrey says another massive incentive to quitting is how much money you save if you stop.

“We are not talking small amounts here – someone smoking a pack a day spends about $160 a week on cigarettes, which is nearly $8,500 each year. With the money saved from stopping smoking you could go on holiday, buy a car, or put it towards your mortgage.

“In four years’ time, tax increases will put the price up to around $30 a pack, so the saving will be further increased.”

Help for quitting can be found locally through​ ​and nationally via Quitline 0800 778 778.

New Zealand has a goal of being Smokefree by 2025.

​​​​​​The objectives of World Smokefree Day in New Zealand are:

Raising awareness and contributing to the achievement of the Smokefree 2025 goal.

Enabling better collaboration, planning and coordination of work within regions and across the country.

Raising awareness of the smokefree kaupapa with the underlying objectives of reducing exposure to second-hand smoke and increasing quit attempts.

Enabling continuity and consistency of messaging and creative within regions and across the country.

Building on and complementing current work in tobacco control.



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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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