Some restrictions are in place in our hospitals to help protect vulnerable Victorians receiving care.

Key points 

  • From 11:59pm Wednesday 22 July 2020 restrictions will change to limit the number of people who can visit patients in hospital.
  • There will also be limits on the number and duration of visits allowed (outlined below).
  • Visitors to hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire must wear a face covering, unless they have a lawful reason for not doing so.
  • All visitors must continue to follow the hospital’s local operating rules. Hospitals may impose stronger restrictions to protect vulnerable people and staff in their particular facility.
Your questions answered

For information on visiting care facilities, see Visiting care facilities.

Current restrictions

The Chief Health Officer has restricted access to hospitals where vulnerable Victorians receive care. This is to help protect elderly people, those with chronic medical conditions or those with low immunity from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Patients receiving treatment and care are especially vulnerable to the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) and may be critically at-risk if exposed. 

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 22 July 2020, hospital visitors are only permitted for the following reasons:

  • If you are the parent or guardian of a child who is a patient then you are allowed to visit. The child can only have one visitor at a time. There are no limits on the number or duration of visits.
  • If you are the parent, partner, support person (for example friend or sibling), guardian, or carer of a patient aged18 years or over then you are allowed to visit to provide emotional and social support to the patient, if this cannot be provided via electronic or non-contact means. The patient can only have one visitor. The visitor can only visit once per day, for a maximum of one hour.
  • If you are a nominated person under the Mental Health Act, then you can visit the patient. The patient can only have one visitor at a time. Visits must be related to treatment and discharge planning, or other functions related to the Act and may visit for up to one hour.
  • If you are providing essential care and support necessary for the patient’s physical, emotional or social wellbeing that cannot be delivered by the health service care team or via electronic means, then you can visit a patient. The patient can only have one visitor at a time. The number and duration of visits should not exceed the time required to provide essential supports only.
  • If you are providing interpreter or informal language support to enable the delivery of care by the care team, then you can visit a patient. The patient can only have one visitor at a time, and visits should align with the times interpreter or language support is required by the care team.
  • A patient whose medical condition is life threatening can have two visitors at any one time. There are no limits on the number or duration of visits. 
  • A patient who is dying and/or receiving end of life care can have two visitors at any one time. There are no limits on the number or duration of visits. 
  • A pregnant patient can only have their partner or support person visit them. The patient can only have one visitor at a time. There are no limits on the number or duration of visits.
  • A patient in the maternity ward that has given birth can only have their partner or support person visit them. That visitor can only visit once per day for a maximum of two hours.
  • A patient can be accompanied to the emergency department by one visitor. That visitor can only visit once per day for a maximum of one hour.
  • A patient can be accompanied to an outpatient appointment by one visitor. That visitor can only visit once per day for a maximum of one hour.
  • If you are visiting to learn how to support a patient’s care when they are discharged from hospital then you are allowed to visit. The patient can only have one visitor. That visitor can only visit once per day for a maximum of one hour.

Which types of hospitals are covered by this restriction?

This restriction applies to all the following hospitals, whether operated by government, the private sector or not-for-profit organisations:

  • public hospitals
  • private hospitals
  • denominational hospitals
  • day procedure centre or multi-purpose health services

Visitors are only permitted for the reasons listed above.

Who can visit a hospital?

Subject to some important conditions listed below, you can visit a hospital if you are:

  • the parent, guardian or temporary carer of a patient aged under 18 years
  • the parent, partner, support person (for example friend or sibling), carer or guardian of a patient aged 18 years or over
  • the carer of a patient with a disability
  • the partner or support person of a pregnant patient, whose status as a patient relates to their pregnancy
  • the partner or support person of a patient in the maternity ward
  • providing interpreter or informal language support
  • accompanying a patient to the emergency department
  • accompanying a patient to an outpatient appointment
  • providing end of life support for a patient
  • an immediate family member and providing support to a patient whose medical condition is life threatening
  • a Nominated Person of a patient who is in hospital to receive care for a mental illness as defined under the Mental Health Act
  • providing essential physical or emotional care that cannot be delivered by the health service care team or via electronic means
  • learning to support a patient’s care once they are discharged from hospital

You should contact the hospital before visiting as they may have additional requirements, conditions or restrictions for visitors. This information may also be found on their website.

Who is not allowed to visit a hospital?

You must not enter any hospital if you:

  • are awaiting a coronavirus (COVID-19) test result (unless granted exemption under exceptional circumstances)
  • are unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), such as a cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, or fever
  • have a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees
  • arrived in Australia within the last 14 days
  • have been diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) and have not yet been given clearance from self-isolation
  • have had known contact in the past 14 days with a person who was a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Only in exceptional circumstances can a hospital allow a person to visit a hospital if they are a known contact of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19), or a returned overseas traveller in mandatory quarantine, or have been diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19). Exceptions can only be authorised by senior hospital staff and, in some instances, must also be approved by the Chief Health Officer / Deputy Chief Health Officer due to the risks involved. Strict conditions may apply to these visits. Please discuss this with hospital staff.

Visitors should wear a face covering mask. If in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, face coverings must be worn.

Is there an exemption to the time limit on care and support visits?

There are no exemptions to the two hour total time limit for care and support visits. However, in some circumstances, patients can have  visitors for longer than two hours per day. The exception for visitors on time limits is if they are:

  • a parent, guardian or temporary carer of a patient in the hospital who is under 18 years
  • a partner or support person of a pregnant patient (this includes for the duration of the patient’s labour)
  • a person providing essential physical or emotional care that cannot be delivered by the health service care team or via electronic means
  • a person providing interpreter or informal language support
  • a person who is providing support to a patient who is dying or receiving end of life care
  • an immediate family member of a patient whose medical condition is life threatening

You don’t need formal approval from the hospital if you are one of these visitors, but you should tell hospital staff this when you arrive. Also note that you will still have to follow any regular rules about visiting hours in hospital.

Are there any special considerations for patients who are receiving palliative care?

In these circumstances, visitors should discuss the duration and total number of visitors throughout the day, with the hospital, as special considerations may be applied.

There is still a maximum number of two visitors permitted at any one time.

Are there any other conditions placed on visits?

Visitors must comply with all screening and infection control measures put in place by the hospital. You must: 

  • If in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, face coverings must be worn.
  • Even with a face covering, you should keep at least 1.5 meters apart from others
  • wash your hands after using lifts, holding railings and every time you enter and exit the patient’s room 
  • follow rules about visitor and time limits  
  • limit movement around the hospital as much as possible  
  • limit the number of personal items you bring into the hospital 
  • follow rules about wearing specific masks, gloves or gowns if requested by staff.

Each hospital may have additional requirements, conditions or restrictions for entry. This could vary ward by ward and include restricted visiting hours, and further conditions on both who can visit and the number of visitors. In some cases, hospital wards or units may be closed to visitors to keep vulnerable patients safe. 

Hospital staff will help you follow these conditions to help keep your family member or friend safe. 

Restricted hospital visitors – implementation guidance

Restricted hospital visitors – implementation guidance for maternity and paediatric services

Do I need to call the hospital before I visit someone in hospital?

No. However you should consider contacting the hospital before visiting as they may have additional requirements, conditions or restrictions for entry. In some cases, hospital wards may be closed to visitors to keep vulnerable patients safe or restrict who can visit to close family. This information may also be found on the hospital’s website. 

You should also importantly speak with other family, friends and carers before you visit. This will avoid a situation where the visitor limit is exceeded. If this occurs, you may be unable to see your family member or friend in hospital.

The person I am visiting is sharing a room – does this impact the number of visitors?

No. Each patient is able to have the maximum number of visitors permitted, subject to the purpose of the visit and conditions of their ward or unit. However, when visiting you need to ensure you follow directions from the hospital staff and also maintain 1.5 metres between yourself and other visitors within the shared room.  

Can I visit my pregnant partner for the birth of our child?

A partner or support person of a pregnant patient can attend the labour and birth for as long as required and they can stay after the birth for as long as required.

A partner or support person can then subsequently visit once per day for a maximum of two hours.

If you are providing essential care and support necessary for the patient's physical, emotional or social wellbeing that cannot be delivered by the health service care team or via electronic means, then you can visit your partner as required. The patient can only have one visitor at at time and the number and duration of visits should not exceed the time required to provide essential supports only.

I’m going to hospital to give birth – can I have more than two people with me?

No. Only the partner or support person of a pregnant patient is permitted to visit.

Prior to giving birth, there are no time limits on how long a partner or support person of a pregnant patient can stay in the patient’s room. Following birth, visits are limited to one per day for a maximum of two hours.

How can I stay in touch with my loved ones in hospital?

People in hospital are unwell or recovering from a medical or surgical condition and can have reduced immunity.  

Before you plan your visit, think about your family member or friend and your role in helping to keep them safe from coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes your loved one who:

  • is elderly
  • has a chronic medical condition (like diabetes, heart, lung, kidney disease, or low immunity).

You can stay in touch and provide support through phone and video calls and texting.

What are the restrictions on workers?

Subject to some important conditions, staff can enter the hospital only if they are: 

  • an employee or contractor of the hospital
  • a student under the supervision of an employee or contractor of the hospital
  • providing goods or services necessary for the effective operation of the hospital (either as a paid worker or volunteer)
  • a person providing health, medical or pharmaceutical goods or services to a patient of the hospital (either as a paid worker or volunteer)
  • a disability worker providing a disability service to a patient with a disability
  • a union and employer representative

If emergency services or law enforcement personnel are required to attend the facility, they can enter at any time.

A person may also be able to enter an area of the hospital exempted from the restriction.

Workers must not enter any hospital if they:

  • are unwell with any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), including a cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, fever, headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea 
  • have a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees
  • arrived in Australia within the last 14 days
  • have been diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) and have not yet been given clearance from self-isolation
  • have had known contact in the past 14 days with a person who was a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) 

A face covering should be worn by all staff. From 11:59pm Wednesday 22 July 2020 if in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, face coverings must be worn.

What if I don't comply?

A person who ignores these conditions and restrictions will be liable for fines of up to $20,000, or up to $100,000 in the case of companies and other bodies corporate.

Where can I get more information?

For updates, see our dedicated coronavirus (COVID-19) page. 

You can also call the coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline: 1800 675 398

If you require a translator to help you, call the translating and interpreting service on 131 450 and ask for the coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline.