Health and disability services at Alert Level 4

Information on how we access health and disability services at Alert Level 4.

Alert Levels update

Auckland and Upper Hauraki are at Alert Level 3. The rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2.

Information about what to do at different alert levels can be found on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Page last updated: 30 August 2021

On this page:


Key things to understand 

  • Businesses are closed except for essential services.
  • Essential services must have systems and processes in place to ensure appropriate physical distancing is maintained and contact tracing is supported.
  • Strict hygiene measures and physical distancing measures will remain in place.
  • Infection prevention and control principles must be adhered to across the system.
  • Face coverings must be worn by everyone 12 and over while at businesses and services open to the public, on public transport (and departure points), in taxis and ride-share vehicles (unless an exemption applies)
  • Testing for COVID-19 will continue at community testing centres and some general practices.
  • COVID-19 vaccinations will continue under alert level 4 conditions. 

Find out more about the Alert Level 4 requirements at Unite Against COVID-19.

Healthcare at Alert level 4

  • Hospitals operate in line with the National Hospital Response Framework. 
  • Primary and community health providers will operate in line with the Community Response Framework. 
  • Only urgent acute care is conducted in person, maintaining public health guidelines. Routine care is postponed. 
  • If it’s a medical emergency – call 111. (A medical emergency includes chest pain or tightness, difficulty breathing, choking, severe bleeding or bleeding that won’t stop, sudden weakness or difficulty talking, fainting or unconsciousness).
  • Emergency ambulance services continue to operate across New Zealand.
  • For aged residential care, hospices and disability residential care facilities, family visits are not currently permitted
  • Pharmacies remain open. 
  • Healthline (0800 358 5453) has increased its workforce to handle increases in call volume.
  • Note: If you are unsure about what you can access in your area, please contact your local DHB or GP who can provide advice on appointments, visitor arrangements etc

Hospitals 

Hospitals operate in line with the National Hospital Response Framework

Only urgent acute care is conducted in person, maintaining public health guidelines. Routine treatment or healthcare appointments are postponed.

Elective surgery and non-essential outpatient hospital appointments are postponed

Anyone who needs urgent medical attention – such as a medical emergency or going into labour – should follow the normal procedures.

  • Cancer treatment will continue. More information is available from Te Aho o Te Kahu, Cancer Control Agency
  • Outpatient appointments continue but will be mainly online or over the phone.
  • Visitors should check with the DHB first about whether visitors are allowed, as this may vary by ward in the hospital.

Emergency ambulance services

  • Emergency ambulance services, including road ambulance and air ambulance, continue to operate throughout all COVID-19 alert levels.
  • Emergency road ambulance services are provided by St John and Wellington Free Ambulance (for Wellington and the Wairarapa).
  • All emergency ambulance providers adhere to strict infection prevention and control principles to help protect paramedics and patients from the risk of COVID-19.
  • Please tell the call taker and paramedics if you may have been exposed to COVID-19. This will ensure that they able to use the appropriate PPE (eg, masks and gloves) to keep themselves and others safe while treating and transporting you. 

General practices

General practices will be open, but appointments will still be conducted though telehealth or by phone where possible.

It is important to still contact your health professional or Healthline (0800 611 116) as you normally would. When you call, your clinic will likely ask some questions to decide if an online, phone or in person appointment is 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.  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. Specifically, childhood vaccinations can continue. Patients will be referred to specialists and for other treatment if needed.

When you make an appointment that requires a visit in person, you will be asked questions around possible COVID exposure and symptoms, this is to keep you and others safe.


Community health services

  • Primary and community health providers will operate in line with the Community Response Framework.
  • Only urgent acute care is conducted in person, maintaining public health guidelines. Routine treatment or healthcare appointments are postponed.
  • Community pharmacies remain open, but medicine management services will be provided over the phone where possible. Medicines may continue to be delivered to some people.
  • Community midwives will provide services in a variety of ways, including face-to-face and on-line appointments.
  • Community dental services will only provide urgent and emergency care which cannot be deferred or managed with medication. Routine care (non-essential and elective dentistry) will not be provided. Updates are provided on the Dental Council website.
  • Appointments for allied health services such as physiotherapy, podiatry, optometry and Well Child Tamaraki Ora services will continue to be mainly online or over the phone.

Screening services

There are some changes to available health screening services offered. For details visit Time to screen


Disability and aged care services

  • Disability and aged residential care are essential services so will continue. 
  • Essential personal care services, such as toileting, washing and feeding, will be provided as usual.
  • Some home help, such as house cleaning, may be available if it can be provided safely.
  • Essential supported living services will continue.
  • Planned respite services will be suspended, but urgent respite care may be provided.
  • Support persons are permitted under right 8 of the Health and Disability Code.  
  • For aged residential care, hospices and disability residential care facilities, family visits are not currently permitted
  • Family visits on compassionate grounds, such as in a palliative situation, will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the facility nursing staff, subject to public health advice, provider assessment and COVID-19 risk screening. Visits will be by appointment only. There is a limit to the number of designated visitors at one time.
  • NGO delivered services, such as social connection, health promotion and education activities are suspended, however other non-contact ways of providing this support are encouraged, such as ZOOM or by phone.
  • Retirement Villages operate within the same restrictions as the wider community, with on-site facilities closed.

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 transmission.
  • Community mental health service appointments will be online or by phone where possible.
  • 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. Read more: COVID-19: Mental health and wellbeing resources

More information on Alert Level 4

Back to top