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

Through the earthquakes and aftershocks, look after yourselves and each other

Monday 14 November 2016Media release5 minutes to read

Now is the time to look after each other as the Hanmer earthquakes affect different people in different ways.

Public Health Specialist Dr Lucy D'Aeth, Chair of the Greater Christchurch Psychosocial Committee says particularly in the North Canterbury areas around Hanmer, Kaikoura and Waiau there are people cut off in towns with broken homes, without power and water.

“For the most affected communities, the priorities are the most basic things – sharing clean water, food, and checking in on neighbours. There will be those who need support to dig a long-drop/outside toilet, or tidy up damaged properties.

“Helping others and giving your time can make a big difference, whether it's helping someone with a big clean up job or spending time talking to people about how they are doing,” says Dr D'Aeth.

It's normal to feel a range of emotions, so expect those around you to be coping differently, she says.

“Our brains react chemically to earthquakes – releasing adrenaline which can cause us to feel shaky, queasy or on-edge and make it hard for us to concentrate. This response is our body's alarm system – it is your body telling you to be alert and ready for action.

“These emotions should calm – but they can take longer to do so if the aftershocks continue for some time.”

There are things you can do to help you feel better. Although it is difficult, try and keep your routine as normal as you can – especially when around children who will take their lead from you.

As part of the response to these earthquakes, additional staff have been rostered on to the Canterbury Support Line following last night's 7.5 quake.

The free phone line (0800 777 846) is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can arrange appropriate support for people affected by the earthquake.

Public Health Information for Hurunui and Kaikoura residents:
Your council will be advising whether you need to boil or treat water from taps and tankers before drinking, brushing teeth or using in food preparation. Bringing water to the boil is sufficient to kill bugs. Water needs to be boiled even if the smell or taste of chlorine is present. If you cannot boil water, treat it by adding 1 teaspoon of household bleach per 10 litres of water and leave for 30 minutes (i.e just under 1/4 tsp of bleach for a two litre container)

Waterways may be contaminated with sewage. Avoid contact with rivers, sea water, ponds, puddles or other surface water. Do not swim, paddle, fish, or gather shellfish or any other food from oceans and rivers.

If your toilet is not working bury human waste (faeces, poo, vomit etc) in your garden or wrap it well in paper or plastic and put it in your red bin for collection. Add some sawdust or kitty-litter to neutralise odour. Wash your hands immediately after dealing with any human waste. See Disposing of Sewage below.

Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser after toileting, and before and after eating or preparing food.

If you are sick, try to limit contact with other people, do not go to work and do not prepare food for anyone. Call your GP if you require medical attention. It is important you address your health concerns early with your general practice team. If it's an emergency call 111.

Take care with food – if there have been extended power cuts, use chilled food first, then frozen, then canned, and lastly packaged food. If unsure about the safety of food due to lack of chilled or frozen storage, do not eat it.

If you have been advised not to use your toilet, or you have no running water:
Toilet systems are likely to be affected by a disaster through broken pipes, flooding of the sewerage system, or breakdown of the pumping machinery.

Human waste can spread disease.

During an emergency
You may need a makeshift toilet if your toilet cannot be used. Avoid overflows, flooding or ponding caused by broken sewerage lines, and contact your local council, public health unit or civil defence sector post for advice on diverting overflowing sewerage.

How to make a temporary toilet

If your toilet is still intact, put a strong plastic bag under your toilet seat to collect waste, alternatively line a bucket or rubbish bin with a strong, leak-proof plastic bag.

Put half a cup of liquid bleach in the bag.

Make a seat from two planks of wood or use a toilet seat on top of the container.

Keep the bin completely covered when not in use, to prevent attracting flies.

Tie the top of the bag firmly when full and place it inside another bag.

Dig a hole well away from the vegetable garden and downhill from any water source and bury the bag.

Make sure the bag is well covered with dirt.

Wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet or handling human waste.

How to make a long-drop toilet

Dig a hole up to one metre deep well away from the vegetable garden and any water source.

Make a seat out of planks of wood.

Cover the waste properly with dirt after each use.

Throw in a little garden lime, insecticide or disinfectant to reduce smells and flies.

Use the long-drop until it is full to within 300mm of ground level.

Cover completely with soil and dig a new long-drop.

Wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet or handling human waste.

From the Ministry of Health resource “Protecting Your Health in an Emergency”.



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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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