In a statement published yesterday (24 March), the postal operator said it is “working hard to deliver the UK's mail”.
Managing director of marketing, regulation and corporate affairs Shane O’Riordain said: “We understand the important role we have to play in helping people to stay connected. The mail is still scheduled to be collected and delivered as normal. This is a fast moving situation and local service levels may at times be impacted by local absences.
“Royal Mail takes the health and safety of its colleagues, its customers and the communities in which we operate very seriously. From today we have introduced a range of new social distancing measures aimed at offering further protection for our colleagues.
“Standard ways of working are being revised to ensure that, wherever possible, colleagues stay two metres apart. We are implementing a new rule that means there will only be one person in a Royal Mail delivery vehicle at any one time.
“Processes have been further reviewed to minimise the passing of work between colleagues. And we are calling for the washing of hands when colleagues enter and leave Royal Mail buildings, as well as at regular times during the day.”
He added that handheld devices will temporarily not be handed over to customers to capture signatures, and that instead postmen and postwomen will log the name of the person accepting the item, and can sign on their behalf.
“Additionally, for all customers, including those who are self-isolating, where we need to deliver any parcel that won’t fit through their letterbox, we will place their item at their door,” O’Riordain added.
“Having knocked on the door, we will then step aside to a safe distance while they retrieve their item. This will ensure the item is delivered securely rather than being left outside.
“If they are unable to come to the door at all we will issue a ‘something for you’ card, advising of other ways they can arrange to get their item. For example, by getting a friend or family member to collect the parcel from our local customer service point on their behalf.
“In this situation, and to keep their mail as secure as possible, they will need to bring along the card we left and a form of ID in the name of the person the item is addressed to.”
He also said that in line with guidance from the UK's chief medical officer and public health authorities, Royal Mail is advising that good hand hygiene “is the first and most important line of defence”. He added the company has good supplies of soap and paper towels and is providing disposable latex gloves, which are available on request.
“We continue to act on public health authority advice which is updated daily. In the meantime we share regular updates and information with colleagues. We have also adopted enhanced disinfectant cleaning of communal areas in all Royal Mail sites on a daily basis. We are monitoring the situation closely.”
Last week, members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) within Royal Mail voted resoundingly in favour of strike action, but offered to convert to an additional “emergency service” in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
Last night, CWU general secretary Dave Ward hit back at what he called a “clickbait” article published by the Daily Mail earlier this week, which reported of Brits complaining about post arriving “up to a week late” during the crisis.
He tweeted that CWU's members are keeping the UK's postal services going “whilst, like everyone else, worrying sick about themselves and their families”.
“We will do everything we can to keep serving people whilst protecting staff,” he added.