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 guidelinesCOVID-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:
9th April 2022

  • For visitors to all facilities effective from Wednesday 20 July 2022With 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. This is another measure to minimise the risk to vulnerable patients.

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

    More COVID-19 information


Labnet is an alliance of District Health Board owned Laboratories who are working together to promote and enhance medical diagnostic laboratory testing in New Zealand.

The aim of Labnet is to work together in order to benefit from a strong brand, common systems and economies of scale, which will improve, promote and protect the services which they provide.

Initially Labnet was charged with trying to standardise as many processes as possible in order to keep down the cost of maintaining the laboratory information systems they ran. Over time this standardisation has been applied to areas outside of the LIS and the members now work together in determining methods, standardizing ranges and purchasing supplies.

What does Labnet do?

Labnet provides community and hospital medical diagnostic laboratory services for hospitals in four DHBs. Labnet members collectively employ over 400 staff, including more than 35 pathologists and registrars plus close to 130 registered medical laboratory scientists.

How is Labnet structured?

Under the Health and Disability Act 2000 (Section 22) DHB laboratories are charged by law to actively investigate, facilitate, sponsor and develop co-operative and collaborative arrangements to improve, promote and protect the health of people. This act (Section 28) also constrains DHBs from forming a body corporate, partnership, joint venture, or other association of persons without the consent of the minister. However, DHBs may freely enter into a co-operative agreement to meet Section 22 objectives.

Thus, to achieve the common goals, it has been determined that the most appropriate structure is via a collaboration agreement and licensing system. A lead DHB (Canterbury) holds the Labnet brand and other DHBs participate by obtaining non-exclusive, royalty free licenses.

A Steering Committee (comprising all participating laboratories) provides governance and determines the areas for collaboration and the membership rules that apply to licensees.

Labnet is not a legal entity. The lead DHB and the participating DHBs (licensees) are the legal entities. Participating DHBs continue to own and manage their laboratories and employ the staff.


Labnet was created to work to provide benefits to its members through seamless integration of their operations, access to economies of scale and mutual support through collaboration; while allowing them to remain as independent laboratories owned and operated by individual DHBs. Labnet is designed to provide a collaborative structure and brand for New Zealand medical diagnostic laboratories, just as the Star Alliance does for the airline industry.

Canterbury Health Laboratories functions as a tertiary hub for Labnet and offers a comprehensive reference testing service, expertise in a wide range of specialties and opportunities for joint research. Professional development programmes are actively managed by all partners and joint development shared amongst Labnet for mutual gain.

Labnet supports and integrates smaller pathology services by providing standardized infrastructure and processes, and a range of services including clinical and scientific education, pathologist supervision, cost savings, standardisation of equipment, business and financial management, as well as information technology and marketing support.