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Hospital visitors

What's changed 20 January 2022

From 11.00am AEST 20 January 2022, tighter visitor restrictions are in place for public and private hospitals across Queensland to ensure the ongoing safety of patients and staff.

There is now a maximum of two visitors permitted for each patient in most patient settings, with tighter restrictions in areas such as ED and post op. Details are provided below.

These restrictions will not restrict access to health care for anyone. Everyone will have access to care or treatment regardless of their vaccination status. Anyone making healthcare decisions for a patient, for example a parent or carer, will also be permitted to accompany them.

Overview

Visitor restrictions are in place in public and private hospitals across Queensland to ensure the ongoing safety of patients and staff.

Two fully vaccinated visitors per patient are allowed in most instances, with some exceptions in the most high-risk areas of a hospital including the emergency department and neonatal intensive care units.

Restrictions on visitor entry

Emergency Department

A single visitor is permitted if they are either the parent or guardian of a dependent child or a support person for a patient requiring significant assistance (physical, verbal, cultural support), or on compassionate grounds.

Neonatal Intensive Care

Unrestricted access for a maximum of two parents or carers.

Siblings may be granted access on compassionate grounds.

Paediatric Unit

Unrestricted access for a maximum of two parents or carers.

Pregnancy and Birth

  • Antenatal clinics: women are requested to attend appointments on their own. In exceptional circumstances, one support person may be allowed, but permission must be sought by phoning the clinic before arriving for the appointment.
  • Birthing suites: only two support people, including the partner, are allowed in the birthing suite. A birthing mother who is diagnosed with COVID-19 may have up to two support people in the birthing suite, including a  support person who is a close contact of the birthing mother.
  • Postnatal wards: After birth, no more than two visitors are permitted at any one time. The two visitors may be an adult and a child of any age.

Operating Theatre and Recovery Room

Visitors not routinely allowed, however parents may visit children post-surgery.

Acute Medical Unit or Intensive Care Unit

Two support people permitted.

COVID designated zones, beds or wards

No visitors except where the patient is a child, has a cognitive impairment or has a need for a full time support person (due for example to frailty, self-care needs or a communication partner is required) provided the visitor is fully vaccinated, and has received a booster dose where eligible.

The Operator of the hospital can permit visitors to a COVID designated area for the purpose of an end of life visit in accordance with local protocols.

In all the above circumstances, no person will be denied access to care or treatment based on their vaccination status. Anyone making healthcare decisions for a patient, for example a parent or carer, will also be permitted to accompany the patient regardless of vaccination status.

Visitors (unless you are a patient), staff, students or volunteers should not be anyone who:

  • is unwell
  • has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or asked to quarantine
  • is in  quarantine, unless permitted under another public health direction and granted an exemption
  • has returned from overseas in the last 14 days (excluding safe travel zone countries), unless granted an exemption
  • Has been in a Queensland COVID-19 restricted area in the last 14 days
  • is a close contact of a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, unless their quarantine period has ended
  • is unvaccinated and not visiting for a permitted purpose. Permitted purposes include:
    • under 16 years of age; or
    • unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a medical contraindication and has evidence of a medical contraindication; or
    • is a COVID-19 vaccine trial participant, and receipt of a Therapeutic Goods Administration approved COVID-19 vaccine would impact the validity of the trial. The medical certificate must not have expired.
    • visiting a patient of the hospital for one of the following purposes:
      1. end of life visit; or
      2. to be a support person during childbirth; or
      3. in an emergency.
    • a parent, carer, guardian or other responsible adult who is accompanying a child or minor that is a patient of the hospital; or
    • a carer or support person who provides assistance or other caring responsibilities, including advocacy services, to a patient of the hospital; or
    • is permitted to enter as an unvaccinated worker in healthcare under the Workers in a Healthcare Setting (COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements) Direction.
  • has had a COVID-19 PCR test and is waiting to receive the results (except for tests due to surveillance testing obligations)
  • has COVID-19 symptoms of fever (37.5 degrees or more), cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, runny nose, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or fatigue

You may enter a hospital if you do not fit into any of the above categories. Each hospital and even wards within hospitals can make decisions around visiting that are in the best interest of the patient. These decisions are based on clinical risk and may change depending on the situation at the time. Please respect each hospital’s visitor rules including any rules on mask wearing, use of personal protective equipment, screening or testing requirements, hand hygiene or other infection control procedures as required by the Operator of the hospital.

Visitors should:

  • wash their hands before entering and leaving the hospital
  • stay 1.5 metres away from others where possible
  • stay in the patient’s room, outside or in a specific area (avoiding communal spaces)
  • stay away when unwell
  • follow requests from the hospital to help keep staff and patients safe.

People visiting a public hospital to access clinical services in an area where there is sustained COVID-19 transmission may be required by the hospital to undertake a rapid antigen test before they can enter

Students

From 11 November 2021, a student cannot enter a hospital for placement unless they are fully vaccinated.

For more information

Questions and answers about this Direction

Questions about entering hospitals

Why do certain public hospitals require me to undertake a COVID-19 test before accessing clinical services?

To protect public hospital patients in an area with sustained community spread of COVID-19, hospitals may screen people visiting to access clinical services using rapid antigen tests. The use of rapid antigen tests will reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the hospital by identifying COVID-positive people before they enter.

Will I be denied care if I return a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test?

No patient will be denied care if they have a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test. Every hospital has procedures in place to manage people who have COVID-19.

Can I visit someone who is near their end of life in a hospital if I am unvaccinated?

Visitors who are not vaccinated are permitted to attend a hospital for an end of life visit.

An unvaccinated person who is permitted to enter the hospital must follow the risk mitigation measures put in place by the hospital. For example, this may require wearing a single use-surgical face mask, safely physically distancing from others or having a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of entering the facility.

Can I visit someone with COVID-19?

You will not be able to visit a patient with COVID-19 except where the patient is a child , has a cognitive impairment or has a need for a full time support person (due for example to frailty, self-care needs or a communication partner is required) provided the visitor is fully vaccinated, and has received a booster dose where eligible.

The Operator of the hospital can permit visitors to a COVID designated area for the purpose of an end of life visit in accordance with local protocols.

A birthing mother who is diagnosed with COVID-19 may have up to two support people in the birthing suite, including a  support person who is a close contact of the birthing mother.

Will visitation rules differ across hospitals and regions?

The Hospital Visitors Direction applies to all hospitals across all regions in Queensland. Each hospital and even wards within hospitals can make decisions around visiting that are in the best interest of the patient. These decisions are based on clinical risk and may change depending on the situation at the time – such as the number of cases in the community, a visitor’s travel history and whether the patient is a vulnerable patient or not.

Visiting hours may also differ across hospitals. Please respect each hospital’s visitor rules.

What is a vaccinated student?

Vaccinated student  is a student who has received the prescribed number of doses of vaccine approved/endorsed for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, or two doses of another COVID vaccine endorsed by WHO-COVAX if the vaccine was received overseas.

A vaccinated student is someone who:

  • in connection with an enrolled course of study (with any education provider), is completing a placement under the supervision of an employee or contractor at a hospital; or
  • is entering a hospital as part of a placement.

Are students allowed to undertake a placement at hospitals?

Only students who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may undertake placement at a hospital, where they are under the supervision of an employee or contractor.

Facilities may also impose their own additional requirements on students.

Students that are not fully vaccinated can still enter a hospital for limited personal reasons:

  • for an end of life visit
  • as a support person of a prospective resident

From 11 November 2021, a student cannot enter a hospital for placement unless they are fully vaccinated.

Questions about close contacts

Who is considered a close contact of a person with COVID-19?

A person must not enter a hospital if they are a close contact  of someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Questions about the collection of contact information

Why do visitor, volunteer and contractor details have to be collected?

From 9 July 2021, hospitals must collect contact information of visitors, volunteers and contractors using the Check In Qld app, unless an exception applies. This is so public health officials can contact individuals in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in Queensland.

Exceptions to using the Check In Qld app includes not requesting information from:

  • a person entering in an emergency to provide emergency services
  • a child under the age of 16 years who is not accompanied by a responsible adult
  • a person based on compassionate grounds or if it may pose a risk to a person's safety.

How will visitor, volunteer and contractor details be collected? What is the responsibility of an individual?

From 9 July 2021, the operator of a hospital must collect contact information by requesting visitors, volunteers and contractors use the Check In Qld app. If this can’t be done because the individual is unable to use the app – for example, because of age, disability or language barriers, or they do not have access to the app – the operator must register them through the Business Profile of the app. The Check In Qld app QR code must also be displayed at all entries to the hospital.

All visitors, volunteers and contractors are responsible for providing their contact information by using the Check In Qld app upon entry to a hospital, unless an exception applies. A person accompanying a person who is unable to use the app is also permitted to check in that person on their behalf.

What if contact details can't be collected using the Check In Qld app?

From 9 July 2021, if contact information can’t be collected using the Check In Qld app due to issues with the Check In Qld app or no mobile data connection, hospitals must collect this information using another electronic or paper-based method.

For each visitor, this information must include:

  • name
  • phone number
  • email address (residential address if unavailable)
  • date and time period of the visit.

Hospitals must use best endeavours to transfer this information to an electronic system within 24 hours and comply with the requirements for collection and storage. If asked, this information must be provided to a public health officer within the stated time.

Other

Who is a contractor to a hospital?

A contractor to a hospital is an individual who provides construction, repair, or maintenance services on an unscheduled or intermittent basis.

A contractor does not include a visiting medical practitioner or health practitioner providing health services on the hospital premises. It also does not include Hospital and Health Service staff employed in maintenance roles at a hospital.

For example, a contractor may visit the hospital to provide electrical services such as repairing or maintaining a lift or plumbing services such as repairing a broken toilet.