In Depth

Coronavirus: how Royal Mail is changing its service

Postal service announces new opening hours and parcel collection system

Royal Mail is changing its delivery service and opening hours from today in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The “range of mitigations” are aimed at helping the postal service “deliver the most comprehensive service we can to all our customers” in the wake of “growing levels of employee absence due to illness and self-isolation”, says guidance on the official Royal Mail website.

The guidance warns that “despite our best endeavours, it is likely that some areas of the country will experience a reduction in service levels due to coronavirus-related absences at their local mail centre or delivery office”.

The latest changes follow additional measures put into place on 24 March that include “only one person being allowed in a Royal Mail delivery vehicle at any one time”, reports Brighton and Hove-based local newspaper The Argus.

Changes to delivery office hours

In order to protect the health and safety of its staff and the general public, the opening times of Customer Services Points at Royal Mail’s largest local delivery offices are changing to 7am-11am.

All other Customer Service Points will be open between 7am and 9am, with all service points closed on Wednesday and Sunday.

Royal Mail says that “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”.

Customers can arrange to have their item or items redelivered for free by clicking here.

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Longer retention period for parcels

Royal Mail is extending the length of time that it will retain items to 30 calendar days, since people may not be able to collect their parcels so promptly during the lockdown, or may need longer to rearrange delivery.

This longer retention period applies when customers receive a “Something for You” card; for items that have a “Surcharge to Pay” or a “Customs Charge to Pay”; and local collect items where the parcel is addressed to the Customer Service Point.

Delivering to care homes

 “We recognise that post is important to the elderly, particularly those away from their friends and families in care homes,” says the Royal Mail guidance.

“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.”

Changes to delivery logistics

Doorstep delivery practices are also changing in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.

 “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,” the postal service says.  “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.” 

Royal Mail will continue to deliver door-to-door advertising mail “wherever practically possible” as it “provides a very valuable service to small businesses and companies of all kinds as they seek to provide their goods and services”, the guidance adds.

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