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

Help us help you, by going to the right place for your health care needs

Friday 1 July 2022Media release4 minutes to read

Patients in Canterbury rural health facilities to be temporarily relocated

Help us help you, by going to the right place for your health care needs

Multiple winter illnesses continue to place pressure on our Canterbury health system, with general practices, pharmacies, urgent care facilities and our Emergency Department all stretched to capacity and beyond. Te Whatu Ora, Canterbury is appealing to the public to help take some of the pressure off our system by seeking the right care in the right place at the right time.

“Our COVID-19 case numbers remain very high in Canterbury. This is impacting our GP teams and pharmacies as they continue to manage high numbers of sick patients, with fewer staff because they too are unwell. Urgent care and Emergency such as ambulance and the ED are feeling the strain of this sustained demand too,” says Becky Hickmott, Senior Responsible Officer for Winter Planning, COVID-19.

“Te Whatu Ora, Canterbury still has on average 200 staff off every day with COVID-19 and similar numbers with flu-like illnesses, and there are still more than a thousand new COVID-19 cases each day and more than 6000 active cases, which is why we are asking the public to do what they can to stay well in the first instance and to please stay home if they are only mildly unwell.”

“It’s also really important you go to the right place to get the care you need, so that ED and urgent care isn’t tied up with minor illnesses that could be managed safely at home with a little TLC, plenty of fluids and a couple of paracetamol. That way, those crucial services will be available for those that really need them and everyone will be seen sooner.”

  • You can phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free health advice 24/7. If you’re caring for someone at home with flu, there are some useful practical tips here on danger signs to watch out for, especially when caring for babies and young children/tamariki. There is simple self-care advice on our website and on HealthInfo, including for mild respiratory or gastro (upset stomach) symptoms
  • Alternatively, during the week you can call your General Practice team for non-urgent health issues
  • Your local pharmacist can provide free health advice and suggest over the counter medication to ease respiratory or gastro symptoms as needed.
  • Canterbury has three urgent care facilities for when it isn’t an emergency, but your injury or illness needs attention that same day. They are the 24 Hour Surgery, Riccarton Clinic and Moorhouse Medical. They can do much more than you think – such as attend to bad sprains and fractures, minor head injuries and stomach pain – and there is no need to make an appointment, although wait times can be long when demand is high. Follow the links for opening hours and services
  • ED (Emergency Department) is for serious accidents and health issues
  • Call 111 for life-threatening injuries or conditions such as chest pain, stroke.

Vaccination and healthy habits are the best protection against the viruses circulating this winter. We’ve all learnt some great 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. By having all your vaccinations and staying well this winter, you’ll help keep health services free for those who need urgent care.

“You can get all of these vaccinations (COVID-19, influenza and MMR) at the same time if you need them.”

“I would like to emphasise that if you are very unwell, we do want to see you at the Emergency Department. We want to reassure our community that the emergency and acute care you need will always be available for those that really need them. All we are asking is that you save ED for Emergencies, don’t go to urgent care if it’s not urgent, and look after yourself if you can.”



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Page last updated: 1 July 2022

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