COVID-19 Updated Guidance for Hospital Visitation

March 26, 2021

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) issued updated hospital visitation guidance effective April 1, 2021. The new guidance permits but does not require hospitals to allow up to two visitors per patient at a time for up to four hours per day. The hospital retains control of the visitation parameters based on a patient’s clinical status, condition, circumstances, and hospital policy. At times, additional visitors may also be allowed or the hours may be increased at the hospitals’ discretion. Restrictions on the number of visitors, length of visits, and visiting hours may differ among various units of the hospital. Details about hospital visitation policies must be posted on the facility’s website.  

Visitors must continue to adhere to the following DOH policies and practices:

  • Visitors must wear face coverings at all times
  • Visitors may be provided with and asked to wear additional appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), depending on the disease the patient has, as recommended by DOH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and hospital policy
  • Visitors must be advised regarding how to perform meticulous hand hygiene and how to wear the PPE and must adhere to such procedures
  • Visitors who fail to wear a mask and other PPE will be asked to leave the facility
  • Visitors must undergo symptom and temperature checks upon entering the facility and shall be denied entry if they report significant COVID-19 exposure or symptoms during the prior 10 days or have a temperature equal to or greater than 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Once in the facility, visitors must remain in the patient’s room throughout the visit except when directed by hospital staff to leave during aerosol-generating procedures or other procedures during which visitors are usually asked to leave
  • All visitors must be greater than 18 years of age except in rare exceptions as determined by the hospital

Hospitals are required to:

  • provide written information to visitors and/or discuss the potential risks and benefits of the visitor’s presence with the visitor and, depending upon the patient’s condition, the patient; and
  • collect name and contact information for visitors, the date(s) of their visits, and the name of the patient(s) visited and maintain this information in an electronic format

Special Populations

Hospitals are required to follow existing visitation policies for special populations as follows:

  • Labor and Delivery
    • Two support persons, including a doula if requested, may accompany the patient throughout labor, delivery, and the postpartum period, including recovery, until discharge to home. The support persons can be the patient’s spouse, partner, sibling, parent, or other persons of their choice.
  • Pediatrics
    • Pediatric patients may have two designated support persons
  • Patients with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities
    • Patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and patients with cognitive impairments, including dementia, may designate one support person to remain with them through their hospitalization. An additional visitor may also be with the patient during hospital-designated visiting hours.
  • End-of-Life Situations
    • Two support persons may be designated to remain with patients in imminent end-of-life situations
  • Same-Day Procedures
    • Patients undergoing same-day procedures may be accompanied to the facility by a companion and that companion may remain in a hospital-designated waiting area until the patient is discharged, unless otherwise disallowed by the hospital according to the patient’s status, condition, circumstances, or hospital policy
    • Visitors may be present during pediatric and childbirth procedures and with patients with an intellectual, developmental, or other cognitive disabilities or end-of-life situations and in other situations as authorized by the hospital, depending upon the patient’s status and condition

DOH may adjust visitation policies based on the prevalence of COVID-19 in a region or county. Please send questions about this guidance to