Health and disability services at Alert Level 2

Information on how we access health and disability services at Alert Level 2.

Last updated: 29 May 2020

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 May, New Zealand is at Alert Level 2.

From 12pm on Friday, 29 May, several changes to the Alert Level 2 rules came into effect. See a summary of the changes on the COVID-19 website

At Alert Level 2, there are differences in how we access health and disability services. These are summarised below. 

For more details see the factsheet on Health and disability services at Alert Level 2 and our Alert Level 2 questions and answers.

You can also read the advice for workplaces.

On this page:


Key things to understand 

  • Services will open and operate normally where possible, while managing public health risks. 
  • Strict hygiene measures and physical distancing measures will remain in place. 
  • Infection prevention and control principles must be adhered to across the system. 
  • Testing for COVID-19 will continue at community-based assessment centres (CBACs), designated practices, and some general practices.

Hospitals 

Hospitals remain open for emergency care, whether or not that care relates to COVID-19.

  • Planned care, including elective surgery and radiology, will be provided in order of clinical priority.
  • Some non-urgent services or treatment may be deferred.
  • Outpatient appointments will continue but will be mainly online or over the phone
  • Visitors with no suspicion of COVID-19 will be allowed to visit hospitals. The number of visitors allowed per patient per day depends on where they are, and discretion may be applied on a case-by-case basis. Check with the DHB first. More information is available here.
  • Women in labour in a maternity facility will be allowed one support partner for the duration of the labour and birth.

General practices

General practices will be open, but appointments will still be conducted online or by phone where possible. You can see your doctor or nurse face-to-face if required. 

  • Your doctor or nurse will continue to provide care for urgent issues, management of long-term conditions, mental health consultations, prescriptions of medication and the treatment of common illness.
  • Patients will be referred to specialists and for other treatment if needed.
  • It is important to still contact your health professional or Healthline (0800 611 116) as you normally would. You can access all the treatments, vaccinations and medicines you need to stay well, whether or not the care you need relates to COVID-19.
  • All usual primary care continues including screening, acute care, long-term condition support, preventative services, antenatal and new-born care, and routine health needs such as mental health consults, prescription of contraception and other medication and treatment of common illnesses.

Community health services

  • Community pharmacies remain open and all pharmacy services continue – including dispensing, medicines advice, vaccinations, community pharmacy warfarin monitoring service, long term conditions services and provision of medicines related health information. Some services will use online/phone, with in-person services available for people who do not have reliable access to technology and the internet.  
  • Community midwives will provide services in a variety of ways, including face-to-face and on-line appointments. 
  • Community dental services are open for routine, urgent and emergency care for people without COVID-19 or suspicion of COVID-19. Confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, close contacts of confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and people waiting for test results, can receive urgent and emergency dental treatment with clinicians meeting PPE and room requirements. Updates are provided on the Dental Council website
  • Appointments for allied health services such as physiotherapy, podiatry, optometry and Well Child Tamaraki Ora services can operate as normal after an appropriate COVID-19 risk screen, however for most people these will continue to be mainly online or over the phone.

Māori and community health providers

  • Māori and community health providers are open at Alert Level 2. They can operate as normal after an appropriate COVID-19 risk screen, however for most people appointments will continue to be mainly online or over the phone.
  • Providers contracted to do so will continue to provide community-based and mobile testing for COVID-19.

Screening services

  • Cancer screening programmes are gradually returning to normal
  • People who missed their breast or cervical screening appointments during Alert Level 3 or 4 will be contacted to make new appointments. Your provider will be in contact.
  • Bowel screening is resuming in a phased manner. People who received a home test kit and were asked to put it aside until further advice, can now complete it and send it back. If you have any concerns about your symptoms, please talk to your GP.
  • DHBs are scheduling colonoscopies, beginning with urgent patients. New invitations will remain on hold, with the first batch expected to go out on 11 June.
  • Antenatal and newborn screening services will continue to be provided, with some changes to ensure the ongoing safety of patients and staff. More information can be found at National Screening Unit.
  • More information about bowel, breast and cervical screening can be found at Time to Screen

Disability and aged care services 

  • Disability residential care continues under all alert levels. All services will follow COVID-19 risk screening and infection prevention control, physical distancing measures, and record people’s details to enable contact tracing. PPE guidance is to be followed.
  • Extra consideration will be given to how at-risk resident’s health will be protected.
  • Pre-arranged visits are allowed, but there will be restrictions on numbers and frequency of visits. No one who is a known COVID-19 contact or is unwell can visit.
  • Moves for residents between residential facilities is allowed.
  • Community participation services, e.g. sports or activities, continues in a safe way.
  • In aged residential care, general family visits and non-essential service visits will be allowed at Alert Level 2 with providers taking precautions such as limiting the number of visitors, length of visits, recording contact details, health screening and following infection prevention measures. Family visits for residents in a hospice are allowed, but on a case-by-case basis, subject to public health direction and the hospice's assessment. 
  • Planned and urgent respite care are available in aged residential care. Level 2 also allows limited opening of facility-based respite services for disabled people. Facilities will contact disabled people and families and whānau to let them know how they will operate following Alert Level 2 rules. Flexibility for respite paid for under Individualised Funding remains under Alert Level 2.
  • Essential personal care services, such as toileting, washing and feeding, will be provided as usual. 
  • Home based personal care services, such as showering and feeding, and home help, such as cleaning, are available. Infection prevention and control measures must be adhered to for essential care services that require close physical contact. Staff movement should be minimised between homes and household management activities should maintain physical distancing where possible. All equipment and modification services are now available following Alert Level 2 rules.
  • You can find more information about disability support services that are available under Alert Level 2  at COVID-19: Information for disabled people and their family and whānau.

Mental health and addiction services

  • Inpatient and residential mental health and addiction services will operate as usual, although there may be fewer beds available, to reduce the possibility of infection.
  • Community mental health service appointments will be online or by phone where possible. There may be some face-to-face appointments.
  • Urgent and crisis community mental health services will continue as usual.
  • There is a range of welfare, mental health and wellbeing programmes underway to provide support to New Zealanders.
  • Visitors with no suspicion of COVID-19 will be allowed one-at-a-time, once a day. The number of visitors allowed per patient per day depends on where they are, and discretion may be applied on a case-by-case basis. Check with the DHB first.

    More information on visiting family or friends

Factsheet for health and disability services at Alert Level 2

More information on Alert Level 2

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