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 update, message from David Meates CEO

Tuesday 16 February 2016Media release4 minutes to read

The Canterbury Health System's seamless response to Sunday's magnitude 5.7 earthquake demonstrates another incredible effort from those who have already been through so much.

David Meates, Canterbury DHB chief executive, says our health system has stood up remarkably to the Valentine's Day shake up.

“Our first priority, as always, is the safety and wellbeing of our staff and patients.

“However, I need to acknowledge that being only a week from the February 22 anniversary, this couldn't have come at a harder time for everyone in both the health system and wider community.

“Our collective wellbeing as Cantabrians is variable, with some taking it in their stride while for others this will be a major setback in their personal recovery from the quakes.”

Mr Meates says community mental health services will be needed more than ever and Canterbury DHB will be supporting them to respond to the needs of the community.

“As we have all learned, we need to look after ourselves before we can help others and I would encourage you to take on this advice, courtesy of Dr Nigel Millar, our Chief Medical Officer.

Reach out to people: Talk to your family, friends and neighbours.

Don't stop doing normal things like walking in the park and working on the garden – focus on the immediate good things in your life, it's often the little things that matter most.

Acknowledge how you feel and reflect on past experiences, good and bad.

Remember what we have been through, and that we still stand strong.

Keep your activity patterns healthy, watch your diet and resist the urge to binge.

If you are not coping, seek advice from your General Practice team or call the Canterbury Support Line 0800 777 846.

Mr Meates says all DHB facilities are operating as business as usual with just two exceptions.

“Thankfully, initial engineering checks of our buildings show no major structural issues, only cosmetic cracking.

“The only closures we've had have been the Burwood Birthing Unit which is having further inspections, and the hydrotherapy pool where minor repair work will be carried out.

“We have taken steps to notify users of those facilities and will let you know when their use can resume.”

Mr Meates says everyone working in the health system have responded as they have done, so many times before, ‘with total professionalism and dedication' to their community.

Next Monday, on the 5th anniversary of the Christchurch's big quake, Cantabrians will once again have the opportunity to share their experiences and hopes for the future as part of the River of Flowers commemoration. The River of Flowers is a great opportunity to reflect on what we've been through, and what we're still going through. Click here to find a River of Flowers site near you.

Where to get help if you need it:
Mental health
Phone your General Practice Team in the first instance. If you don't have a GP or are new to Canterbury, find out how to register here or check out the Primary Health Organisations – Pegasus Health, Rural Canterbury PHO, and Christchurch PHO – for where to find a GP closest to you.

Visit the All Right? Website at or go to to connect with the All Right? team who specialise in wellbeing advice.

For general information and advice on the mental health support services we have available, visit Canterbury mental health services

Emergency mental health services can be reached on 0800 920 092, 24 hours a day, every day.

General Practices and pharmacies
All are open as usual so make these your first point of contact with our health system for non-emergency care.

After-hours facilities you should know about:

The 24 Hour Surgery, cnr Bealey Ave & Colombo St 03 365 7777. Open 24hrs every day.

Moorhouse Medical, 3 Pilgrim Place 03 365 7900. Open 8am-8pm every day.

Riccarton Clinic, 6 Yaldhurst Road. Open 8am-6pm every day.

Community nursing services

These continue to be delivered, though there may be issues attending patients in the Sumner area if that is the case the nurse will advise.



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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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