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 DHB steps up hand hygiene vigilance after antibiotic resistent bug discovered

Friday 6 November 2015Media release3 minutes to read

Canterbury DHB is increasing vigilance around hand hygiene after three people in Canterbury have tested positive as potential carriers of the rare bacteria Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE).

CRE is a family of bacteria resistant to nearly all antibiotics. None of the patients had an infection, which occurs when the presence of CRE causes illness.

Carbapenems are a group of antibiotics often used to treat complex infections and when other antibiotics have been found to be ineffective. ​

Dr Nigel Millar, Canterbury DHB Medical Officer of Health, says that since the multi antibiotic-resistant form of these bacteria is extremely rare, it is likely that two of the cases were hospital-acquired. The patients are no longer in hospital.

“Although bugs like these are rare, our health system is well prepared,” Dr Millar says.

“We have systems in place to identify these types of organisms and prevent them from spreading such as isolating any patients who test positive for the bacteria. It was through routine clinical care and screening that these CRE colonisations were first identified.”

Once the bacteria are in the human gut, they are there for life. Carriers will not show any symptoms and under normal circumstances, will never know the resistant bacteria are even there.

Dr Millar says these cases serve as a timely reminder that the first line of defence against any bacteria is thorough hand washing.

“Good infection prevention practices are an essential part of health care and perhaps the single most important thing we can do to keep patients and ourselves safer,” he says.

“It is everyone's responsibility to wash their hands frequently, especially after going to the toilet and before preparing and eating food.”

Dr Millar says there is worldwide concern about the continuing development and spread of antibiotic resistance.

“No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered in the past 20 years and unless that situation changes, we will encounter more bacteria that we can't treat effectively.

“It is therefore essential that we control and curtail our use of antibiotics and use them wisely.”

Here are some of the actions Canterbury DHB has taken to date:

We are checking contacts of the three patients with confirmed colonisations to understand if there are signs of spread – none has been found at present

We are following up with all health professionals who were or will be involved in the care of these three patients

Other DHBs, the Ministry of Health and the Health Quality and Safety Commission have been informed. We are in the process of informing other health care professionals who work with vulnerable people, such as hospitals, Aged Residential Care facilities, community nursing and General Practice.

Although the level of public risk has been assessed as low, more information can be found at



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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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