Hospital visitors don’t need a Vaccine Pass, but must wear a surgical/medical paper mask. Fabric face coverings are no longer acceptable. See our COVID-19 pages for visiting guidelines, COVID-19 tests current case numbers in regions of Canterbury and care in the community advice. See for info about vaccinations.

We are at ORANGE according to the NZ COVID-19 Protection Framework

Last updated:
19 April 2022

For visitors to all facilities effective from Tuesday 19 April 2022

With the change to the ORANGE Traffic Light setting, Canterbury DHB is easing its visitor policy in recognition of the fact we have passed the peak of the current Omicron outbreak and case numbers are slowly reducing.

The following visitor restrictions are now in place for all Canterbury DHB hospitals and health facilities:

  • One adult visitor may be accompanied by no more than one child over the age of 12 per patient in the hospital at any given time, except where stated otherwise in the ‘exceptions’ section below.  No children under 12 and those 12 and over must be accompanied by an adult and wear a medical mask.
  • Visitors or support people should not visit our facilities if they are unwell.
  • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all times at all Canterbury DHB sites and will be provided if people don’t have them.
  • Hand sanitiser stations are visible and must be used.

By adhering to these conditions, 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 (ie more than one visitor) where a trusted whānau member provides 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 – 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 support people, and women on the Maternity Ward are allowed one support person for the duration of their stay in our facilities at Christchurch Womens Hospital. Only one support person can be with each woman in the maternity ward, and one support person for maternity clinic appointments, no children are allowed to visit.
  • 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, following a supervised negative RAT result)
  • Children who are inpatients, one other visitor (other than a parent or caregiver) is able to visit in consultation with the nurse in charge.
  • 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.

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.

Face covering exemption cards

The Exemptions Team at the Ministry of Health is now responsible for processing requests for Face Covering Communication Cards.

Updated information about mask wearing, and how to request an exemption card can now be found here. People unable to request an exemption card online can call 0800 28 29 26 and select option 2, or text 8988

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

More COVID-19 information

Guide for employers and employees

Primary Care has a very important role in providing community-based care to the community during this Omicron outbreak. Here is some simple advice to help ease the pressure on them and enable GP teams to focus on providing the right care to the right people.

This information is intended for employers and could reduce the load on General Practice, avoid creating stress among employees and enable employers to have their staff available to work as much as possible, safely.

Some perspective on the Omicron variant

The dominant strain of COVID-19 in New Zealand is Omicron. Delta is very rare/ virtually non-existent at the moment. For most people who are fully vaccinated and don’t have underlying health conditions (respiratory or heart disease for example) who do get Omicron will generally have mild symptoms and recover well at home.

Symptoms – what to look out for

Symptoms can include one or more of the following: a new or worsening cough, sneezing and runny nose, a fever, temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste, a sore throat, or shortness of breath.

There are less-common symptoms, but the ones above are the main ones to look out for.

Testing – things have changed

RAT kits have now replaced PCR testing as the principle testing tool. While they aren’t quite as accurate (80 percent, depending on the user), they are almost instant.

A negative result can also provide a high degree of confidence that it is safe for an employee to return to work - providing the standard public health measures are used – masking in indoor working environments, distancing and good hand hygiene.

  • RATs are only intended to be used by close household contact, by someone with symptoms or if directed to by a public health official - not for “just in case” scenarios.
  • There is no need for anyone who has used a RAT to get a follow-up PCR test unless directed to by a health official.
  • If a RAT is inconclusive, check the instructions then do another RAT – there is no need for a PCR unless results are repeatedly inconclusive
  • New employees do not need to provide a negative RAT or PCR result before starting a new job. Employers who insist on that as their own policy need to provide RATs

The Ministry of Health wants us all to record test results, including RATs, on our My COVID Record. It is an important part of being able to track the course of the outbreak accurately – which in turn may drive changes in rules or an easing of restrictions.  As well as My COVID Record there is an 0800 number to phone them in, for those that are unable to access their My COVID Record or who don’t have one.

Almost as important, entering a positive result online will connect you with the supports you or your whānau might need while isolating – including how to obtain essential supplies for example.

Contacts and cases

Among people who have been exposed and may be infected, there are four categories: casual contacts, close contacts, close household contacts and people with symptoms. Only two of these need to test and potentially to isolate – close household contacts, and people with symptoms.

Close contacts (who have had contact with a person they don’t live with who has/had COVID-19) or casual contacts don’t need to self-isolate but do need to watch for symptoms. If they become symptomatic, they should do a RAT and carry on as normal or take action depending on the result.

Household contacts also have to self-isolate for 7 days – unless they are exempt under the Critical Workers’ Exemption Scheme. Providing they RAT test negative and they have no new symptoms on day 7, they can return to work with the usual public health measures.

Here is a link to a really handy way of deciding what type of contact someone is: What type of contact are you?

Medical certificates are generally not needed

There is no need for people that test positive for COVID-19 or who have been identified as a close household contact (ie live with someone who has COVID-19) to get a medical certificate.

They may be asked by their employer to show the text that identified them as a household contact or for a screencap of their positive test – but that would be for the employer to request according to their own protocols - it is not a legal requirement.

Neither a medical certificate or a negative test is needed to show a new employee doesn’t have COVID-19 – unless it is the employer’s own policy, in which case they should provide a RAT.

There is also no need for a medical certificate to show that a person is ready to return to work. However, employees who have reason to use a RAT do need to keep their employer informed and record their results on their My COVID Record.

Critical workers

The Ministry of Health has defined Critical workers, but in simple terms, these are people needed to keep essential services going. Because they are critical, these workers need to be enabled to work where they can do so safely, and so different rules apply to when they should isolate or continue to work supported by testing and the usual public health measures

Under the Critical Workers' Exemption Scheme, critical workers who are close household contacts of a case or have mild symptoms can return to work, providing they test negative (using a RAT) before they arrive for each shift.

Other workers

Non-critical workers have to self-isolate for 7 days if they are either a household contact, test positive or have been instructed to isolate by a public health official. This means staying completely at home – no trips to the supermarket etc. during their isolation period. If they test negative on day 7 from their first exposure or positive test, they can safely return to work.

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Page last updated: 16 March 2022

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