23.03.2020 - COVID-19 has severely impacted the world's flow of mail. Postal operators from Europe to the Americas, and from Asia to Africa, have been forced to adapt the way mail is delivered to customers.
Many Posts are operating against the background of suspension of movements of people and the closure of international borders to prevent the spread of the deadly disease. The sole focus of Posts throughout this period has been on the health and safety of both staff and customers. To achieve this, Posts have informed the Universal Postal Union of a number of changes to their operations that follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization and the medical advice of individual countries. All Posts emphasize fundamental hygiene procedures to be followed including handwashing, sneezing and coughing into the elbow and social distancing.
In Germany, Deutsche Post DHL announced their goal was to ensure full-coverage of the post, while implementing recommendations to slow the spread of the pandemic. Following similar decisions in Australia, the Netherlands and elsewhere there is now a waiver of the requirement for a signature upon receipt of parcels and registered mail with personal delivery. The new approach seeks to curtail contact between customers and postal workers and to prevent the spread of the virus through the held hand scanners and pens. As a message from Australia Post noted: “Delivery will be conducted via limited face-to-face methods and will be effective immediately.”
Correo Uruguayo in Uruguay announced that it was minimizing the spread of the disease by reducing staff numbers at postal facilities and introducing telecommuting where possible. The Latin American postal operator also reduced physical contact, closed post offices with large numbers of customers and created special collection points.
Italy has suffered one of the greatest challenges due to the tragic impact of the global pandemic on its population. Already the country’s top employer Poste Italiane has worked courageously and diligently to maintain the flow of post and to protect both its staff and customers. In a message sent to UPU, the postal operator said it was “fully committed to playing its part in helping Italy to overcome this major challenge. A dedicated committee, involving all senior management, has been working around the clock for a number of weeks, in close contact with the relevant institutional bodies, to define and continuously adapt directives and provisions in compliance with the government-mandated precautionary measures intended to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.”
The Italian postal operator also introduced a detailed sanitation plan accounting for the entire post office network, as well as vehicles and post offices. Safety equipment was also distributed to staff to protect all staff in their daily work and to ensure that customers could safely enter the country’s post offices.
These methods are being adopted across the world as postal operators continue to work tirelessly to ensure that customers receive mail. In a message on 13 March, Belgium`s postal operator, bpost, said, “In the exceptional circumstances that are now affecting the whole of Belgian society, bpost will remain close to citizens, continue to serve its customers and show the utmost concern for the health and safety of its employees.” It is a sentiment reflected across the entire international postal network.
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