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

Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury to postpone outpatient appointments to free up staff to work in acute care

Thursday 14 July 2022Media release4 minutes to read

Patients in Canterbury rural health facilities to be temporarily relocated

New measures to alleviate the pressure on health services in Waitaha are being put in place, says Dr Peter Bramley, Interim District Director, Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury.

A System Wide Incident Management Team (IMT) has been stood up to manage the significant demand on the Canterbury Health System at present. There are a number of factors which are impacting on our ability to provide timely planned care.  High levels of acute respiratory illnesses, a sustained high volume of admissions to Christchurch Hospital, consistently high demand for acute care in our Emergency Department, Urgent Care facilities and general practice as well as unprecedented high levels of staff sickness due to both COVID-19 and other winter illnesses. 

COVID-19 numbers are forecast to continue to rise over the coming weeks. Today we have 111 inpatients with COVID-19. This is the highest number seen throughout the pandemic. We are experiencing higher COVID-19 rates in our 65+ population than at any other time this year, which is impacting disproportionately on hospitalisations.

“To free up staff to work in acute care areas we will be postponing most non-urgent outpatients activity, including all non-urgent outpatient procedures, until 31 August 2022. Note, this will exclude all gastroscopy and colonoscopy procedures.

“We apologise for the impact this will have on our community. This is not a decision we have made lightly but we need to redeploy staff to support acute and emergency care across the health system. Acute outpatient assessments will still continue, and we will make use of telehealth consultations wherever we can.”

“We are continuing to undertake emergency and non-deferable surgery and we are reviewing and reprioritising patients who have been waiting longer that we would like due to having their surgery deferred.”

“If your planned care (outpatient appointment or surgery) has been deferred you will be contacted. If you haven’t heard from us, please assume that it is going ahead. If you’re not sure, please phone the number on your appointment letter.”

The IMT continues to monitor the rise in numbers of COVID-19 cases, and staffing pressures throughout the Waitaha health system and will continue to work collaboratively to keep patients flowing through our system.

Updated visitor restrictions

Due to the rising number of inpatients who have COVID-19, stricter visitor restrictions have been put in place. 

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • Visitors to COVID-19 positive patients will not be allowed except in extenuating


  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, facetime, zoom etc

You must NOT visit our facilities 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 (and are testing negative for COVID-19

“This is a good time to remind our community that surgical masks must be worn at all times in our facilities,” says Dr Peter Bramley.

“To limit the spread of COVID-19, in some wards we have heightened infection and prevention controls in place.  Even if you have a mask exemption, in some areas you cannot enter without a mask on because patients are very sick or very vulnerable such as in NICU. On some wards, you are required to wear an N95 mask to enter. We cannot compromise on patient health and safety.”

“There is only one visitor allowed at a time and under 12s are not allowed. Please talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss any exceptions to this on compassionate grounds before you come to hospital to visit.”

“I would like to emphasise that the most important thing that Cantabrians can do is get vaccinated, including boosters if eligible, and wear their masks to protect themselves against the viruses circulating this winter. Please keep sharing this message with your friends and whanau.”

“We’ve all learnt some great healthy habits over the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as vaccination, wearing masks, physical distancing, and increasing ventilation when indoors. These measures will help protect us as we face influenza and other viral diseases,” says Dr Peter Bramley.



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Page last updated: 14 July 2022

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