All hospital visitors are recommended to wear a medical face mask. Expand this message for information about visiting hospital.

Last updated:
13 March 2023

Some visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury hospitals and health facilities remain in place, but we have relaxed others.

There is still a heightened risk to vulnerable people in hospital and so we recommend all people wear a mask when visiting any of our facilities and follow other advice designed to keep patients, staff and  visitors safe.

Kia whakahaumaru te whānau, me ngā iwi katoa – this is to keep everybody safe:

  • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell. Do not visit if you have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and haven’t completed your isolation period.
  • Patients may have more than one visitor, except in some situations such as multi-bed rooms where it can cause overcrowding.
  • Surgical/medical masks are recommended be worn at all sites. Masks will be provided if you don’t have one.
  • For Specialist Mental Health Services everyone is strongly encouraged to wear a face mask in all inpatient areas and areas where consumers are receiving care (i.e. community appointments, home-visits, transporting people). Discretion may be applied in cases where masks impair your ability to communicate effectively.
  • Visitors must not eat or drink in multibed rooms because of the increased risk when multiple people remove their face mask in the same space.
  • Hand sanitiser is available and must be used.

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.

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • People can visit patients who have COVID-19 but they must wear an N95 mask – this will be provided if you don’t have one.
  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp etc where visits aren’t possible.

All of our Hospitals

Visiting hours for our hospitals have returned to pre COVID-19 hours with the exception of Christchurch Women’s Hospital.

All visitors are recommended to wear a medical face mask.

Parents/caregivers are able to be with their child in hospital and visitors are now allowed, except for the Children’s Haematology and Oncology Day stay where just one parent/caregiver is able to attend their appointment with their child. Exceptions by special arrangement only.

Patients and visitors should also read the additional more detailed visiting guidelines for each specific hospital.

More COVID-19 information

Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury makes changes to visitor policy to protect vulnerable patients

Tuesday 19 July 2022Media release6 minutes to read

THIS IS AN ARCHIVED PAGE. The advice and information contained in this page may not be current and it should only be used for historical reference purposes.

Patients in Canterbury rural health facilities to be temporarily relocated

Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury makes changes to visitor policy to protect vulnerable patients

To ease pressure on the health system and protect vulnerable and older patients, from tomorrow morning, 7am 20 July, temporary changes to Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury’s visitor policy take effect at the district’s hospitals and health centres.

During the past two weeks, there has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases on top of other respiratory illnesses – resulting in a larger proportion of our population and health workforce unwell or looking after whānau at home. While this isn’t unexpected in winter, we are seeing a far greater impact, earlier than usual, across hospitals and primary care.

Becky Hickmott, Incident Management Controller for the Omicron outbreak says that to protect our vulnerable patients, we are tightening our visitor restrictions and enforcing a ‘no mask, no entry’ policy.

“Children and young people under the age of 16 will not be allowed into Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury facilities, unless the visit is prearranged on compassionate grounds. This is because medical masks are less likely to fit under 16s well and children are less likely to be able to wear them correctly for the duration of a visit. Anyone who looks like they might be under 16, but isn’t, should bring some photo ID with them as proof of age.

“From tomorrow morning you will need to mask up and keep your mask on at all times while inside any of our facilities, and we have increased the minimum age of visitors to one person aged 16 or over to visit each patient,” Ms Hickmott says.

Visiting hours for Christchurch Hospital are also being reduced to between 3 and 8pm to allow patients more time to rest and recover and ease pressure on health workers, with a significant proportion of the workforce currently unwell or looking after whānau at home due to COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. Entry to Canterbury hospitals and health centres will be via main entrances only.

“Given we expect sustained pressure on health services to continue throughout winter, it will help if everyone does their bit to help us get through the cooler months. Our best protection this winter is to be up to date with influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations, which can help reduce the need for hospitalisation, along with the other precautions of staying home when sick, getting tested when you have flu-like symptoms, wearing masks as directed, and regularly washing hands.”

Visitor guidelines

  • One visitor at a time may visit a patient in our facilities. Visitors must be aged 16 or over.
  • Please phone and talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss any exceptions to this on compassionate grounds before you come to hospital to visit.
  • No eating or drinking while visiting a patient (i.e. you need to keep your mask on at all times when in our hospitals and health centres, except in cafes and areas designated for eating/drinking)

Mask wearing

  • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all times inside all of our facilities and are provided at the front entrance if people don’t have them.
  • Note that the need to wear a mask at all times in our facilities also applies to people with mask exemptions as the health and safety of our patients is our top priority.
  • Even if you have a mask exemption, you won’t be able to enter any Te Whatu Ora facilities without a mask. If you are unable to visit, please call the Charge Nurse of the ward you want to visit, and staff will do their best to facilitate a phone or video call as an alternative.
  • As is the case now, on some wards, you will be required to wear an N95 mask to enter.

No visiting patients with COVID-19

  • COVID-19 positive patients cannot be visited other than on exceptional compassionate grounds agreed by the Charge Nurse Manager. Please phone the ward to arrange a phone or video call as an alternative. 

You must NOT visit our facilities if you

  • are a household contact of a COVID-19 positive case
  • are COVID-19 positive
  • are unwell. Please stay home if you have a tummy bug or cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you’ve tested negative for COVID-19).

Full details of the new visitors’ rules, including exceptions, will be published on our website at midnight tonight.

A reminder to everyone that you can now pick up supplies of free RATs and masks from community testing centres and participating pharmacies. You don’t need to have symptoms to get free RATs. Wherever possible please order online at or by calling 0800 222 478.

Please check Healthpoint for a list of participating pharmacies as not all pharmacies can distribute free RATs. You can find your nearest community based testing/RAT and mask collection centres here P2/N95 masks are available for people who are at higher risk of hospitalisation if they get COVID-19.

More COVID-19 vaccine options

For adults aged 18 and over who wish to have a different COVID-19 booster vaccine option, Novavax and AstraZeneca are now available to book as a second booster at least six months after a first booster.

While Pfizer continues to be the preferred vaccine, the alternative boosters will be available from 14 July for priority groups. You can find the eligibility criteria here: Second boosters are free and are important for our most vulnerable people as we go through winter. Staying up to date with the recommended COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to protect you from the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation or death from COVID-19.

Check out to see where you can receive these vaccines. AstraZeneca boosters require a prescription and you can get this for free either from a GP or from a participating vaccination centre.

It’s also time to see if you are winter ready and ensure your other vaccinations are up to date such as flu and MMR (measles). Your family doctor can help, and many vaccinations can be done at your local pharmacy. 

If you’re in Christchurch, join us at our community vaccination events and stay for kai, colouring competitions and spot prizes. You can get both COVID-19 and MMR vaccinations if you need them. Free flu vaccinations are also available for those in the eligible groups. Check if you’re eligible here:



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Page last updated: 5 October 2022

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