25 October 2020

Visitor access restrictions at health facilities across the ACT will be eased from tomorrow (Monday 26 October), allowing more people to visit Canberrans in hospital while remaining vigilant to the threat of COVID-19.

The changes will allow two visitors per patient on each site per day. The two visitors can see a patient at the same time, or separately, during visiting hours.

Visitor restrictions have allowed health facilities to continue to manage the risk of COVID-19, and to make sure they are protecting staff, patients, and the broader community.

Exemptions to the visitor policy on compassionate grounds will continue to be determined on a case by case basis, however each case must be discussed in consultation with the relevant clinical staff.

Women admitted for care related to birthing may have up to two support persons present.

If you are attending an outpatient and/or community health clinic, please attend alone wherever possible. If you need support, please limit this to one other person.

Wherever possible, health services are asking that people do not bring children (aged under 17 years) with them.

Professor Imogen Mitchell, Clinical Director for the ACT COVID-19 response, said it was always a difficult decision to restrict visitors to health services.

“We are pleased that as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease across our city, we can make these changes to restrictions in our hospitals and health clinics.

“We know how hard it has been for Canberrans affected by the restrictions, and we thank the community for their continued support as we seek to protect the health and safety of our staff, patients and their families.”

Professor Mitchell said this protection was especially necessary for our most vulnerable, particularly patients whose health is already compromised.

The easing of restrictions had been made possible by the continuing support of the community for health screening at health facilities, hand hygiene practices and physical distancing guidelines.

“Health screening at health facilities is the frontline of the ACT’s defence against COVID-19, and this will continue,” Professor Mitchell said.

“It ensures health services have the means to contact trace if needed, and has helped us to keep our staff, patients and their families safe.”

Physical distancing and hand hygiene practices continue to apply to everyone in ACT health facilities, too.

Professor Mitchell noted that the situation was evolving quickly, and these arrangements may change at short notice as the ACT’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.

She also said that visitors or outpatients who choose not to participate in health screening measures may be refused entry to health facilities.

“Please remember to be kind and respectful to our staff as they go about their business to keep our patients and community safe,” Professor Mitchell said.