All hospital visitors are recommended to wear a medical face mask. Expand this message for information about visiting hospital.

Last updated:
13 March 2023

Some visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury hospitals and health facilities remain in place, but we have relaxed others.

There is still a heightened risk to vulnerable people in hospital and so we recommend all people wear a mask when visiting any of our facilities and follow other advice designed to keep patients, staff and  visitors safe.

Kia whakahaumaru te whānau, me ngā iwi katoa – this is to keep everybody safe:

  • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell. Do not visit if you have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and haven’t completed your isolation period.
  • Patients may have more than one visitor, except in some situations such as multi-bed rooms where it can cause overcrowding.
  • Surgical/medical masks are recommended be worn at all sites. Masks will be provided if you don’t have one.
  • For Specialist Mental Health Services everyone is strongly encouraged to wear a face mask in all inpatient areas and areas where consumers are receiving care (i.e. community appointments, home-visits, transporting people). Discretion may be applied in cases where masks impair your ability to communicate effectively.
  • Visitors must not eat or drink in multibed rooms because of the increased risk when multiple people remove their face mask in the same space.
  • Hand sanitiser is available and must be used.

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.

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • People can visit patients who have COVID-19 but they must wear an N95 mask – this will be provided if you don’t have one.
  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp etc where visits aren’t possible.

All of our Hospitals

Visiting hours for our hospitals have returned to pre COVID-19 hours with the exception of Christchurch Women’s Hospital.

All visitors are recommended to wear a medical face mask.

Parents/caregivers are able to be with their child in hospital and visitors are now allowed, except for the Children’s Haematology and Oncology Day stay where just one parent/caregiver is able to attend their appointment with their child. Exceptions by special arrangement only.

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 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), they 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.


RAT tests have 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 – wearing a mask if required or as you see fit, distancing and good hand hygiene.

  • RATs are intended to be used by someone with symptoms or if directed to by a public health official
  • 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 My COVID Record. It is an important part of being able to track the course of the outbreak accurately.  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.

Contacts and cases

If you have COVID-19 you must self-isolate for 7 days.

Day 0 is the day your symptoms started or when you tested positive, whichever came first.

What are the self-isolation rules?

Household contacts:

Household Contacts do not need to isolate.

If you are a Household Contact, you should test daily for 5 days with a rapid antigen test (RAT) from the day the person with COVID-19 tested positive.

Wear a face mask if you leave your home during your 5 days of testing.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you must self-isolate for 7 days.

You are a Household Contact if you live with, or spend a night with someone who has COVID-19. We recommend you test daily for 5 days with a rapid antigen test.

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 household contact (i.e. live with someone who has COVID-19) to get a medical certificate.

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 Close Contact Exemption Scheme for critical workers has ended.

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Page last updated: 14 April 2023

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