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

UPDATE: Christchurch Hospital staff caring for 31 people injured in terror attack

Monday 18 March 2019Media release4 minutes to read

Members of the public have paid their respects to the victims by placing flowers across the Christchurch hospital campus

Members of the public have paid their respects to the victims by placing flowers across the Christchurch hospital campus

Please attribute comment to David Meates, Chief Executive, Canterbury District Health Board

We currently have 31 patients who were injured in the mosque attacks in Christchurch Hospital. Two people were well enough to go home and have been discharged today. 

There are still 9 people in a critical condition in intensive care. We continue to transfer any that are well enough to go to other wards as we can. People injured in the mosque attacks are our priority for surgery and other specialist care over the coming days. There is still a 4 year old girl in a critical condition in Starship Hospital in Auckland, transferred there on Saturday. Her father has also been transferred to Auckland and remains in a serious but stable condition.

Christchurch Hospital has good capacity at present and we are well-staffed, but we are also conscious that many of our people have worked long hours and will have been profoundly affected by this tragedy too. We need to look after them so they can look after you.

We are still asking the public to appreciate the additional workload on all of our health system staff.  The hospital is extremely busy, as is primary care – you should continue to make your general practice team your first point of call for all non-urgent care. Call the usual general practice number 24/7 and after hours, you can get advice from a nurse – they will tell you what to do and where to go if you need to be seen.

Today we are running all available acute theatres for the many people who need follow-up surgery or procedures due to the complex nature of their injuries.

This means that we are postponing  a significant number of surgeries planned for Cantabrians and others to free up theatre space and surgical teams today. To those who have had their surgery postponed, thank you in advance for your generosity and understanding.

Outpatient appointments are going ahead as planned.

As the majority of us return to work and school today, it’s probably more important than ever that we connect, share our thoughts and experiences, and help each other process what has happened. Spend time with people you love and talk about how you’re feeling. Consider taking a digital detox and take a break from social media. Instead, focus on an activity you love or on the people around you.

Look after yourself and those around you and remember that people cope in different ways. Disasters and tragedies take their toll and our resilient Canterbury people have been through much in recent times. For some that may make things easier because of the coping skills they have learned, but for others it may bring back unwelcome feelings or add to their anxiety. Feeling on edge and upset right now is a completely normal reaction. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, so allow yourselves time and be kind to yourself and others –  a simple kind act or generosity of spirit and the support you give others might come at just the right time to make all the difference to them.

Supporting our kids and whānau

  • Children take their cues of parents — so if you’re okay, they’ll be okay too…
  • Be mindful how much ‘worry’ you’re displaying, just be as cool as you can!
  • Keep children away from the media.
  • Answer their questions pretty matter-of-factly and in very ‘general’ terms. Drama it down. You don’t have to get the answers exactly right here. Ensure you talk too about the police and how they did a really good job of keeping us safe. Keep the reassurance low key too — over-reassuring can make us think we need to be worrying more than we are!
  • Let them talk about it, but don’t let it ‘take over’ – use distraction to keep their mind off it
  • Stick to your normal routines as much as you can.

If you want to talk to a trained counsellor, you can phone or text 1737 to be put through to a counsellor any time of the day or night. This is a free service for everyone.

Back to Health News

Page last updated: 18 March 2019

Is this page useful?