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Hospital visitors - coronavirus (COVID-19)

Overview

Public and private hospitals across Queensland have visitor restrictions in place to ensure the ongoing safety of patients and staff. Visitors do not include patients.

Two fully vaccinated visitors per patient are allowed in most situations.

The most high-risk areas of a hospital, including the emergency department and neonatal intensive care units, have more specific visitor restrictions than general areas.

Visitors must wear a face mask at all times indoor spaces of the hospital and comply with requirements the hospital has in place.

Update - 13 May 2022

  • While a person is a close contact they cannot visit a hospital setting, unless in exceptional or compassionate circumstances (for example, end of life visit, or as a support person in a birthing suite). If permitted to visit while a close contact, they must:
    • test negative within 24 hours prior to entering the hospital setting
    • have no COVID-19 symptoms
    • advise the hospital they are a close contact and comply with any requirements they have in place
    • wear a mask and follow any PPE or protective measures required of you.
  • International Arrivals should not visit a hospital setting for the first 7 days of arriving in Queensland, unless in exceptional or compassionate circumstances (for example, end of life visit). If permitted to visit in the first 7 days, they must follow protective measures including:
    • test negative for COVID-19 within 24 hours of arrival in Queensland
    • get a test within 24 hours prior to visiting the hospital setting
    • does not have COVID-19 symptoms
    • wears a mask and follows any PPE or protective measures required
  • Students, and volunteers engaged by the hospital (and not by another organisation), should follow the requirements of the Workers in a healthcare setting (COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements) Direction.

Entering a hospital setting

You cannot be a visitor to a hospital setting if you:

  • have COVID-19
  • recently had COVID-19 and it has been 7 days or less since your isolation period ended
  • are a close contact, unless in exceptional or compassionate circumstances e.g. an end of life visit or as a support person in a birthing suite)
  • have returned from overseas in the last 7 days, unless in exceptional or compassionate circumstances (e.g. an end of life visit, or as a support person in a birthing suite)
  • have recently had COVID-19 test and you are waiting to receive the results (except for tests due to surveillance testing obligations)
  • have COVID-19 symptoms
  • are unvaccinated and not visiting for a permitted purpose. Permitted purposes for unvaccinated visitors include being:
    • under 16 years of age
    • unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a medical contraindication and have evidence of a medical contraindication
    • 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.
    • a visitor of patient of the hospital for one of the following purposes:
      • for an end of life visit (you do not need an exemption)
      • to be a support person during childbirth
      • in an emergency (such as next of kin signing a consent form for emergency surgery)
    • a parent, carer, guardian or other responsible adult who is accompanying a child or minor that is a patient of the hospital
    • being a carer or support person who provides assistance or other caring responsibilities, including advocacy services, to a patient of the hospital.

Vaccination status for patients and decision-makers

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.

An exemption is not required for an unvaccinated person to enter and remain in a hospital for an end of life visit or to support a birthing patient, however prior agreement by the hospital is required.

Entering for compassionate or exceptional reasons

If you are a close contact and permitted to visit for compassionate or exceptional reasons, you must:

  • test negative within 24 hours prior to entering the hospital
  • have no COVID-19 symptoms
  • advise the hospital you are a close contact and comply with any requirements they have in place
  • wear a mask and follow any PPE or protective measures required of you.

If you are an international arrival and permitted to visit in the first 7 days, for compassionate or exceptional reasons, you must:

  • test negative for COVID-19 within 24 hours of arrival in Queensland
  • get a test within 24 hours prior to visiting the hospital
  • not have COVID-19 symptoms
  • wear a mask and follow any PPE or protective measures required of you.

Restrictions on visitor entry by location

Emergency department

A single visitor is permitted if the visitor is:

  • the parent or guardian of a dependent child
  • the support person for a patient requiring significant assistance (such as physical, verbal or cultural support). A support person should inform staff of their role and what kind of support they provide.

A visitor may also be allowed on compassionate grounds.

Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)

A maximum of two parents or carers can have unrestricted access.

Siblings may be granted access on compassionate grounds.

Paediatric unit

A maximum of two parents or carers can have unrestricted access.

Pregnancy and birth

  • Antenatal clinics: patients can have one support person (including their partner). A second support person may be allowed in exceptional circumstances but you must call the clinic for permission before attending the appointment.
  • Birthing suites: only two support people (including the patient's partner) are allowed in the birthing suite. A birthing patient who has COVID-19 may have:
    • up to two support people (including someone who is a close contact of the patient)
    • a support person in their birthing suite who is a COVID-19 positive person in their isolation period, if the hospital approves their entry
  • 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 or two adults.

Operating theatre and recovery room

Visitors are not normally allowed aside from parents visiting their children post-surgery.

Acute Medical Unit (ACU) or Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

Two support people are allowed.

COVID designated zones, beds or wards

No visitors are allowed except where the patient:

  • is a child
  • has a cognitive impairment
  • has a need for a full time support person (due to frailty, self-care needs or if a communication helper is required).

A support person must be fully vaccinated, and have received a booster dose where eligible.

The operator of the hospital can permit visitors to a COVID designated area for exceptional reasons (as determined by the operator) or an end of life visit in accordance with local protocols, and regardless of vaccination status of the visitor.

Rules for visitors

Visitors should:

  • wear a mask at all times while in an indoor space of the facility
  • provide their contact information on entry using the Check in Qld app or another method of collection
  • when required, provide verbal confirmation and any relevant proof that they are
    • fully vaccinated
    • don't have symptoms
    • aren't awaiting a COVID-19 test result
    • aren't subject to any other restrictions
  • comply with any other measures the hospital operator puts in place
  • wash their hands before entering and leaving the hospital
  • stay 1.5 metres away from others where possible
  • 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 (RAT) before they can enter.

Visitors includes people visiting a patient of the hospital, and people entering to provide products or services on a voluntary basis, as part of their role with another organisation.

Employees, volunteers engaged by the hospital (and not by another organisation), and students are not considered visitors but are considered workers in healthcare, and should follow the requirements of the Workers in a healthcare setting (COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements) Direction.

Collection of contact information

The operator of the hospital must collect contact information, proof of vaccination or vaccination exemption certificate by requesting visitors, volunteers and contractors to 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 facility.

The operator of a hospital is not required to request a person’s contact information if:

  • the person is entering a hospital in an emergency
  • the person is or appears to be younger than 16 years and is not accompanied by a parent or adult who can provide information on their behalf
  • it is not reasonable to request contact information based on compassionate grounds or a risk to a person’s safety.

More information

Questions and answers about this Direction

Questions about entering hospitals

Why do some public hospitals require a COVID-19 test result before accessing clinical services?

Hospitals may screen visitors using Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in a hospital in areas with sustained community spread.

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.

If I am in isolation or in quarantine, can I visit a patient who is also in isolation or quarantine in the same household?

If you are in isolation (you have COVID-19) or in quarantine (you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19), you can be the support person for a patient who is also in isolation or quarantine in the same household. For example:

  • a mother who is COVID-19 positive and isolating at home goes into labour and is taken to hospital. Her partner lives in the same house and is in quarantine as a close contact. The partner may visit the hospital as a support person.
  • a dad is the primary carer for his disabled adult son. The dad is quarantining at home as a close contact with his son who is COVID-19 positive. The son has a seizure and needs to go to the emergency department (ED) by ambulance. The dad may accompany the son to the ED.

Call ahead to let the hospital know you are coming so they can prepare and prevent others from getting COVID-19. You would need to:

  • travel to the hospital in your own private transport
  • wear a mask while you are there
  • maintain physical distancing as much as possible.

Will visitation rules differ across hospitals and regions?

The Hospital Visitors Direction applies to all hospitals across all regions in Queensland.

Hospitals and the wards within hospitals can make decisions about 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.

Are students allowed to undertake a placement at hospitals?

Only fully vaccinated students can 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.

Questions about the collection of contact information

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

If contact information can’t be collected using the Check In Qld app, 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 email is 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.