Aim To investigate the impact of family visit restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic on deliriums, falls, pneumonia, pressure ulcers and readmissions among surgical inpatients with gastrointestinal (oncologic) diseases. Design Cohort study. Methods This study was conducted among adult inpatients undergoing gastrointestinal surgery in two academic hospitals. During the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, over a 10-week period, one cohort was subjected to family visit restrictions. Per patient, one person per day was allowed to visit for a maximum of 30 min. This cohort was compared with another cohort in which patients were not subjected to such restrictions during a 10-week period in 2019. Logistic regression analyses were used to investigate the impact of the restrictions on deliriums, falls, pneumonia, pressure ulcers and readmissions. Results In total, 287 patients were included in the 2020 cohort and 243 in the 2019 cohort. No differences were observed in the cohorts with respect to baseline characteristics. Logistic regression analyses showed no significant differences in deliriums, falls, pneumonia, pressure ulcers and readmissions between the cohorts. Conclusion We cautiously conclude that the family visit restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic did not contribute to deliriums, falls, pneumonia, pressure ulcers or readmissions in surgical patients with gastrointestinal (oncologic) diseases. Impact COVID-19 influenced family-centred care due to family visit restrictions. Nurses need to continue monitoring outcomes known to be sensitive to family-centred care to gain insight into the effects of visit restrictions and share the results in order to include nurses' perspectives in COVID-19-decision-making. Re-implementing of family visit restrictions should be carefully considered in policy-making.