Mail services help keep people (and businesses) connected. As an essential service, throughout the pandemic postal services have needed to remain open for business in order to help not only business operations, but the general population as well, thanks to COVID-19 guidelines urging people to stay at home. With more people at home working and learning now than before, mail delivery companies have needed to make many changes to the way they operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a surge in the number of people accessing mail services from the comfort of their own homes, as people try to keep in touch with loved ones, stocked up on essentials, and do their Christmas shopping with select shops open and Christmas markets closed this year. Mail delivery companies must try harder than ever to reduce delays and provide the same great service as always.
Coronavirus has forced a number of changes on the postal system. For instance, Royal Mail has had to reduce the number of people together in shared spaces and vehicles, and change the time guarantee on Special Delivery and opening hours of Customer Service Points at local delivery offices. Contact has been minimised during delivery by not handing over hand-held devices to customers for signatures, but rather, logging the name of the person accepting the item (postoffice.co.uk) or employees requesting the customer’s first initial and last name (usps.com).
For more information on how USPS is keeping you and their employees safe during this time, watch this video on how they are adapting their delivery procedures - Royal Mail also follows similar guidelines.
Mail delivery times are now affected by a number of factors relating to coronavirus. Significantly higher than normal absence rates due to illness and self-isolation (postoffice.co.uk), limited air travel, and a sudden surge in demand of postal services (exacerbated by coronavirus-related measures and lockdowns resulting in a tremendous uptake of online Christmas shopping) all contribute to the delivery issues faced during this pandemic. Although companies are working hard to keep any delays to a minimum, it has been a challenging year and it is likely some areas will continue to experience some level of disruption during the pandemic.
In the US, delivery of Priority Mail has changed, extending two-day and three-day service commitments to three days and four days. However, the Priority Mail Express service which guarantees overnight service, and one-day service commitments for Priority Mail will not change (usps.com).
It appears as though delivery times have improved and are slowly getting closer to pre-COVID-19 times, as according to Royal Mail, their changes to service (from Monday 28th September) are as follows:
Timed guarantees for Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9am: changed to by 11am (previously by 12pm from 31 March to 26 September)
Timed guarantees for Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm: changed to by 4pm (previously by 9pm from 31 March to 26 September)
Opening hours of Customer Service Points were extended during the festive period beginning 16 November; find your local Delivery Office opening hours here or on the Royal Mail app
Due to COVID-19, there is limited air travel between the US and the European Union, impacting the ability of mail suppliers to ship volumes to/from the US (www.mailint.com). Although routes remain open, delays are expected, and it will likely be quite some time before they are normalized to pre-pandemic expectations.
Public Health England has advised that there is no perceived increase in risk of contracting coronavirus from handling post. According to the U.S. Postal Service: “Coronaviruses are thought to be spread primarily through air-borne respiratory droplets resulting from a sneeze, cough or ordinary speech. Although the virus can survive for a short period of time on some surfaces, both CDC and the United States Surgeon General have indicated that it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging.”
In addition, the Centres for Disease Control have stated that “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures”. Furthermore, the World Health Organization agrees: “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low”.
Regardless, routine handwashing with soap or hand sanitizer after collecting mail seems to be the best option just to be on the safe side.
Naturally, mail services get busier over the holiday season with all the mailing Christmas cards, parcels and letters to loved ones. There is added stress on mail delivery systems to get everything delivered before the holidays in regular years, but the pandemic has caused that pressure to skyrocket thanks to the exceptionally high volumes of mail this holiday season. Despite the Royal Mail’s significant investments in extra resources - Royal Mail has hired 33000 temporary workers to help with the seasonal increase in demand (two-thirds more than usual) during this festive season; delivery timescales may be longer than usual.
You might have noticed the queues at post offices getting increasingly lengthy, partly due to coronavirus measures but also due to the high volume that always occurs at this time of year. Rather than going to shops and post offices to purchase your postage, you can buy postage via the Royal Mail App or online at usps.com and print at home.
Although you can access many services at home via apps and online webpages, it still may require you to measure the size and weight of your letter, calculate postage based on where you are posting it to, and possibly leave home to actually post the mail in a postbox, depending on where you live.
If you are self-isolating thanks to the current pandemic, or just avoiding leaving home at all costs, your best bet is to use online mail services like PostSeal. Royal Mail and USPS have adapted to the coronavirus measures well, but unfortunately, still require leaving home to get your mail in a post/mailbox. So, if you want to skip the hassle of purchasing envelopes and stamps, addressing letters yourself, writing or printing letters/documents at home, trying to calculate postage fees yourself, or ordering postage online and printing off said postage – which is not so easy if you do not own a printer yourself; the best way to get your mail delivered without needing anything more than your mobile phone is PostSeal’s online mail service. Save yourself a trip outside your home and simply send your letter online.
Published on 12/15/2020
Last modified on 12/17/2020