The Royal Mail has announced strict new rules to its service which will start next week.
Changes to post office opening times and deliveries will be made amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Royal Mail previously revealed changes about handling and delivering mail during the crisis.
These included “only one person being allowed in a Royal Mail delivery vehicle at any one time” and an extra emphasis on postal workers washing their hands when entering and leaving Royal Mail buildings.
Acting on public health authority advice, Royal Mail says it has “adopted enhanced disinfectant cleaning of communal areas in all Royal Mail sites on a daily basis” and to minimise contact, customer signatures are no longer required, and any parcel too big to fit through a letterbox will be placed outside their door.
However from next week stricter guidelines will be put into place.
Here are all the changes as stated on the Royal Mail website.
Changes to post office opening hours and closures
To protect the health and safety of our people and the general public, from Monday 6 April, we are changing the opening times of our Customer Services Points in our local delivery offices.
Our largest locations will be open between 07.00-11.00am.
All other Customer Service Points will be open between 07.00-09:00am.
All will be closed on Wednesday and Sunday.
To support the Government’s advice to stay at home and avoid non-essential journeys, we urge customers to only visit Customer Service Points where absolutely necessary.
As a reminder, we can also redeliver your item(s) for free. Schedule your redelivery here.
Longer retention period for parcels
To give you longer to collect or have your item redelivered, we are temporarily extending the retention period to 30 calendar days from Monday 6 April before items are returned to sender .
This applies to the following:
- Items we’ve left a ‘Something for You’ card
- Items that have a ‘Surcharge to Pay’
- Items that have a ‘Customs Charge to Pay’
- Local Collect items where the parcel is addressed to the Customer Service Point
Due to increased absence levels, we’ve reviewed our timed guarantees for Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9am and 1pm services and will make the following changes:
- For items posted from Tuesday 31 March 2020 onwards, our guaranteed delivery for Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9.00am the next working day will change to by 12.00pm the next working day*.
- Our guaranteed delivery for Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1.00pm will change to by 9.00pm the next working day*.
*existing postcode exceptions apply
Signing for and receiving items
In order to protect both our people and customers as much as possible, we are minimising contact during delivery.
We will not be handing over our hand-held devices to customers to capture signatures but instead log the name of the person accepting the item.
Additionally, for all customers where we need to deliver any item that won’t fit through your letterbox, we will place your item at your door.
Having knocked on your door, we will then step aside to a safe distance while you retrieve your item.
This will ensure your item is delivered securely rather than being left outside.
Delivering to care homes
The Government has introduced measures to protect our most vulnerable groups, including those in residential care.
These include limiting all but essential access to care homes for external contractors.
We recognise that post is important to the elderly, particularly those away from their friends and families in care homes.
Therefore, to support the effort to keep the mail moving but prevent the spread of Coronavirus, we are making arrangements to deliver to a central point (e.g. reception) rather than individual addresses within care homes from 19th March.
These changes will help to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our people and the vulnerable in society.
Leaflets and unaddressed mail
We will deliver unaddressed door to door advertising mailings to customers who are receiving addressed letters or parcels at the same time, wherever practically possible.
Door to door mailings provide a very valuable service to small businesses and companies of all kinds as they seek to provide their goods and services.
Many small businesses need that support now more than ever.
They want to send it, many consumers want to receive it.
Door to door mailings also include important communications from local government.
The most common symptoms of the coronavirus are:
- a dry, persistent cough
- a fever
If you experience these symptoms, you should immediately self-isolate yourself for seven days.
It is not necessary to call NHS 111 unless your symptoms get more severe.
Some patients have reported fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath and aches and pains. Sneezing is not a symptom of the coronavirus.
Public Health England guidance on receiving mail
Previously the World Health Organisation said the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low.
The spokesman said : “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”
The ECHO asked Public Health England what its current stance was regarding the risks posed by receiving mail.
Darren Wee, the Senior Communications Officer at the National Infection Service, emphasised the current information that WHO and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has published about coronavirus.
He said: “While not a lot is known about COVID-19, it is likely to behave in a similar way to other coronaviruses.
“How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors; for example, what the virus is on, whether it is exposed to sunlight, differences in temperature and humidity, and exposure to cleaning products (even simple ones like soapy water and household cleaning sprays).
“Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 24 hours, and even more so after a further 48 hours.
“Appropriate infection and prevention control measures are being implemented to reduce the risk to the public.
“Because COVID-19 is a new illness, we do not know exactly how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread mainly by cough droplets or sneeze droplets, and also by indirect contact with infected respiratory secretions.”