Background: Long-term effects after COVID-19 may affect surgical safety. This study aimed to evaluate the literature and produce evidence-based guidance regarding the period of delay necessary for adequate recovery of patients following COVID-19 infection before undergoing surgery. Methods: A rapid review was combined with advice from a working group of 10 clinical experts across Australia and New Zealand. MEDLINE, medRxiv and grey literature were searched to 4 October 2020. The level of evidence was stratified according to the National Health and Medical Research Council evidence hierarchy. Results: A total of 1020 records were identified, from which 20 studies (12 peer-reviewed) were included. None were randomized trials. The studies comprised one case–control study (level III-2 evidence), one prospective cohort study (level III-2) and 18 case-series studies (level IV). Follow-up periods containing observable clinical characteristics ranged from 3 to 16 weeks. New or excessive fatigue and breathlessness were the most frequently reported symptoms. SARS-CoV-2 may impact the immune system for multiple months after laboratory confirmation of infection. For patients with past COVID-19 undergoing elective curative surgery for cancer, risks of pulmonary complications and mortality may be lowest at 4 weeks or later after a positive swab. Conclusion: After laboratory confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 infection, minor surgery should be delayed for at least 4 weeks and major surgery for 8–12 weeks, if patient outcome is not compromised. Comprehensive preoperative and ongoing assessment must be carried out to ensure optimal clinical decision-making.