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

Supporting mental health in Kaikoura a priority

Friday 18 November 2016Media release3 minutes to read

​Health officials are crediting Kaikoura residents and visitors for their vigilance in preventing a gastro outbreak but are concerned about the high levels of anxiety and stress being experienced in the community.

Dr Ramon Pink, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, who returned from Kaikoura today, says there are currently no signs of any gastro outbreaks in the area.

“The community and the relief workers have taken to heart the importance of boiling or treating water and hand washing. Everyone needs to keep it up as gastro bugs have the potential to spread like wildfire through a community. With so little clean water available, any gastro bug would be extremely difficult to control,” he says.

Dr Pink acknowledges that this is a very tough time for people in Kaikoura.

“It's a very challenging environment for everyone. What makes things so hard is the fact Kaikoura's so cut off, making it difficult to get supplies in and people out. This is something we didn't have to deal with in the Canterbury quakes of 2010 and 2011.

“I was struck by how strong the community is and how they're coming together to support visitors, as well as each other. While many are pulling up their sleeves, helping others and just getting on with things, support will be required well into the future.

“Mental health staff are in place and providing immediate support but as we've learned from the Canterbury quakes, recovery takes time.”

Dr Pink says as well as immediate concerns like housing, electricity and clean water, residents and local businesses are concerned about what the future holds.

Dr Pink also advises for people to keep out of the sea and rivers during this time because of possible contamination.

“While some surfers are keen to see what surf breaks may be coming following the seabed movement caused by the quakes, they need to avoid the water until it's been cleared of contamination.”

Since Monday, Dr Pink, fellow Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey and four Health Protection Officers, have supported response efforts on the ground in Kaikoura. This work has included checking water supplies, providing hand sanitiser and bleach, promoting public health messages, supporting other agencies involved in the response and reporting back to health authorities on the issues being faced.

In addition to public health staff, the Canterbury DHB has sent about 20 clinical staff to Kaikoura, including two psychologists to support the psychosocial recovery, nurses, allied health, a GP and Pharmacist.



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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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