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

Strong commitment to new target focused on healthy kids

Tuesday 22 November 2016Media release3 minutes to read

The Canterbury Health System is committed to the Government's newest health target ‘Raising Healthy Kids', which has come into effect from Quarter 1 2016/2017.

The new target focuses on identifying and offering children with obesity a referral for a clinical assessment and healthy lifestyle intervention at the Before School Checks (B4SC).

David Meates, Canterbury DHB Chief Executive says earlier this year the five South Island district health boards (DHBs) agreed on a regional approach to address childhood obesity and plan how they would meet the new Ministry of Health target.

“A suite of referral options are now being made available to General Practice teams to refer at-risk children and their families, ensuring equal access to high quality resources for all South Island residents.”

Mr Meates says an integrated approach is the most effective pathway to prevent and manage overweight children in the South Island.

“Amongst these, for selected cases, will be ‘Triple P Lifestyle', a cost-effective, evidence-based parenting course that focuses on behavioural change, nutrition and physical activity advice for the whole family, as well as ‘Active Families', via Sport Canterbury, which offers coaching and support to families to be more active.

“A popular resource that has been used across the health sector in Waikato since mid-2015 will also be available in the South Island. BeSmarter, which was developed as a parent/child friendly way to start conversations about health and goal-setting, is currently used by paediatricians, nurses, dieticians, dentists, GPs, practice nurses and B4SC staff.”

However, because the roll out of these programmes is in the developmental stages, Mr Meates says performance against the health target is expected to increase significantly once things are fully up and running from early next year.

“We anticipate the percentage of referrals sent and acknowledged to increase in the next quarterly reporting round.”

Children's health remains a strong focus in Canterbury with continued high performance in the immunisation target.

For the fifth quarter in a row, Canterbury has achieved the immunisation target, vaccinating 95 percent of eligible children in Quarter 1.

“We had strong coverage rates across all population groups. This is a significant achievement showing the results of ongoing commitment from immunisation teams across our system.”

Canterbury DHB's performance in Quarter one showed it delivered 4,936 elective surgeries to our population, 98.9 percent of target delivery against the Improved Access to Elective Surgery.

“Theatre capacity constraint remains one of the DHB's biggest challenges in terms of delivering on elective targets. The DHB will deliver on its elective target of 20,982 elective surgeries for the 2016/2017 financial year.”

Despite a number of initiatives to support flow in the Emergency Department (ED), Canterbury DHB did not reach the health target in Quarter 1, with 92.8 percent of patients admitted, and discharged from ED within 6 hours.

“Hospital flow proved a major barrier through the winter months – particularly due to the number of frail elderly admitted due to seasonal flu.

“We are reviewing performance and approaches to high demand with a focus on next winter as flow has now returned to usual with the arrival of spring.”

For more information on Canterbury's performance in Quarter 1 of the 2016/2017 health targets can be found at


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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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