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

Faecal contamination in Christchurch waterways

Friday 18 December 2015Media release4 minutes to read

New research shows wildfowl such as ducks and Canadian geese are the biggest contributors to faecal contamination in Christchurch’s waterways, and that following rainfall human and dog faeces can also be present.

The research, which was undertaken by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Limited (ESR), investigated the sources of faecal contamination in the Avon River/ Ōtakaro, Heathcote River/Ōpāwaho and the Estuary of the Heathcote and Avon Rivers/Ihutai.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey, says the sampling provided further evidence that Campylobacter and E.coli bacteria are at levels that can be harmful to human health.

Unfortunately the quality of water in our city’s waterways is poor. E.coli levels usually exceed recreational water guidelines during normal weather conditions, and after rainfall the water is always unsafe,” Dr Humphrey says.

“No one should swim in, or consume food from, these waterways. Recreational river users such as rowers should always avoid the waterways 48 hours after rainfall, and always wash their hands and equipment thoroughly after being in contact with the water.”

Christchurch City Council's water manager Tim Joyce says while rain has always put pressure on our city’s stormwater and wastewater drainage systems, progress is being made on reducing the amount of wastewater that overflows into waterways.

“While there have only been two actual wet weather overflows from our network in either the Avon or Heathcote in the last 18 months, in some areas of our city it’s likely that stormwater is being contaminated after coming into contact with the wastewater system after rainfall, contributing to the contamination of our waterways,” Mr Joyce says.

“SCIRT is making great progress rebuilding the city's earthquake-damaged wastewater and stormwater network and will have its work complete by the end of 2016. This will help reduce the contamination in our waterways after rain,” he says.

“The Council has allocated $75 million to improve the wastewater system so it performs better after rainfall. A recently completed ’post SCIRT’ rebuild wastewater model is being used to determine how those funds can be used to the greatest effect.”

Dr Humphrey says the solution to healthier waterways is in the hands of the community.

“Dog owners need to pick up after their dog every time. No matter where you are in Christchurch, if you don’t pick it up it will end up in a river after rainfall.

“Another way people can make our rivers cleaner is by not feeding non-indigenous ducks. The more we feed ducks the bigger their population becomes, and the more of their faeces ends up in our rivers.

“In early 2016 the Council will start consulting on its Three Waters Strategy and it’s important the community are clear about their expectations, and what they are prepared to pay, when it comes to recreational water quality,” Dr Humphrey says.

Additional information
As part of the research water samples were taken from nine locations between April 2015 and September 2015:

the Avon River (The Antigua Boatsheds, Kerrs Reach and Owles Terrace)
the Heathcote River (Ferniehurst Street, Bowenvale Avenue, Waltham Park and Catherine Street)
two sites in the estuary (Humphreys Drive, South New Brighton Domain).
The highest levels of E.coli was observed at the Antigua boatsheds, mostly from wildfowl (such as ducks and Canadian geese). Following heavy rainfall E.coli also came from dog and human faeces.

Kerrs Reach and Catherine Street were the only two locations where human sewage was found during normal weather conditions. In every other location human sewage was only detected after rainfall.

After rainfall sheep and cow faeces were detected in samples taken from the Heathcote River.

The research was jointly funded by the Ministry of Health, Environment Canterbury, Christchurch City Council and the MBIE funded Clean Water Productive Land research programme.

The reports are available on the ESR Water Quality website.


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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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