Saturday, 14 March 2020

Changes to Royal Mail procedures - infection prevention; London 2020

Royal Mail have announced changes to their delivery procedures and practices to prevent infection.

Public Health England (PHE) has advised that people receiving parcels are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus. From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or parcels. This complements the highly publicised guidance from PHE for people to wash their hands more often than usual using soap and hot water. 
We are actively monitoring this rapidly evolving situation. We take the health and safety of our people very seriously. We have provided guidance to our people, our customers and communities in which we operate, to help prevent the spread of any infection. We are doing so in line with preventative guidance from Public Health England.

Signing for and receiving items

In order to protect both our people and customers as much as possible, we will not be handing over our hand-held devices to customers to capture signatures. Postmen and women will instead log the name of the person accepting the item. This will apply to Special Delivery Guaranteed, Tracked 24/48 with Signature and Signed For services.*
Additionally, for all customers (including those who are self-isolating) where we need to deliver any parcel that won’t fit through your letterbox, we will place your item at your door. We will then step aside to a safe distance while you retrieve it. This will ensure your item is delivered securely rather than being left outside. 
If you are unable to come to the door at all we will issue a ‘Something for You’ card, advising of other ways you can arrange to get your item. For example, by getting a friend or family member to collect the parcel from our local Customer Service Point on your behalf.

Contingency plans

In the event we need to close one of our units, this decision would be made in line with Public Health England guidance. Royal Mail has many years’ experience of contingency planning for a number of different scenarios. We will follow the Government’s advice and work closely with the relevant authorities.
We have extensive experience in being able to quickly deploy business contingency plans so we continue to provide customers with access to our services and their mail.

I had to collect a special delivery package today - this is how it appears on Royal Mail's track-and-trace webpage:

The postman writes COV19 on the pad; the customer does not handle it at all.

International Mail

Details of 'international incidents' and current arrangements for each country can be found here.

For example (today)a:

Delays to deliveries in China
As a result of reduced air capacity and emergency delivery procedures being taken to contain the virus on the ground in China, it is inevitable that customers sending items to China are likely to experience delays to delivery.

Impact to items leaving China for delivery in the UK
We are processing items from China for delivery in the UK as usual, though the transit of mail across and through China is affected. A number of international airlines have suspended flights to mainland China, and some border ports in neighbouring countries are also temporarily closed. China Post will temporarily store affected transit mail (air and surface) and will transport it to the destination countries when these transport options are once again available. Delays should be expected in transport and delivery during this period.

Incident: Deliveries to Italy delayed
Italian Post has advised the whole of the country has now become a Yellow Zone, subject to extraordinary measures, which is effective until 3 April or unless a later date is advised. Human movement and social contact are to be minimised. Commercial transport is permitted with precautionary measures aims at preventing/minimising human contact to preserve personal safety, hence a heavy reduction in work force is applied in the logistic chain within Italian Post with impacts to processing and delivery.

As a result Quality of service is affected on all postal products until the end of the Coronavirus epidemic. Precautionary delivery methods continue with signatures not obtainable from the actual addressee during this period.

While I'm happy to have comments please don't ask me for further updates but refer to the website links shown.  

The organisers plan to hold the show as scheduled, subject to advice from Public Health England and the Government.  Given that across Europe some countries have banned large gatherings indoors and out, and in the UK many sporting bodies have suspended activities for at least a month it remains possible that the UK may prohibit large indoor gatherings.  Given the demographic of the collecting fraternity, there is greater risk than average for the population.

Update Sunday 15 March: However, the retail booklet that has been issued on 10 March has been issued, so it cannot be withdrawn or unissued.  It is unfortunate that it is probably not in many post offices and that many collectors have not been able to buy it yet.  Obviously there has been nobody at RM to answer questions since this was raised on Friday afternoon, so we will wait until tomorrow, and update you with the answer.

UPDATE: Show now in 2022

Be safe everybody, take care, and follow health authorities' advice in your country.


  1. Not sure that COVID-19 would ever be able to find its way to remote Norfolk, but if it does I hope it swings its way around Norvic Towers and you all too stay safe and well.

    1. Thank you! We have been the only unaffected county - as the locals said - due to poor infrastructure, no motorways, and on the way to nowhere.

      The Eastern Daily Press website was showing 3 cases this morning, but the BBC shows only 1 this evening.

      Worse, though is the “Isolation for over-70s 'within weeks'”, suggestion from the health secretary. I must read that now.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. The RM member of staff who delivered my registered item this morning had no knowledge of this new procedure.

  3. London 2020 is now London 2022 (19-26th February).

  4. The postman delivering my parcel yesterday morning, was stood at least 2m from the front door when I opened it. He told me I had a parcel and it was on the front door mat.

    It took me by surprise a bit but given the current situation, it's totally understandable.