The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) currently ravaging the globe is affecting all areas of our lives. Already, events have been canceled and many countries have slipped into lockdown, confining residents to their homes. Amazon has announced a suspension of non-critical warehouse shipments through April 5.
Mainstream shipping companies like FedEx and UPS will be making adjustments to how they do things to prevent transmission, too.
"FedEx Express continues to operate inbound and outbound flights to and from impacted areas as local conditions and restrictions allow, and we are taking recommended precautions in terms of pilot, team member and customer health and safety," FedEx said in a statement to Android Central. "The safety and well-being of our team members is our top priority. We are closely monitoring guidance by the World Health Organization and other public health organizations, and taking proper health precautions where warranted. We are also encouraging our team members to take any signs of illness seriously and seek medical attention as needed."
UPS says much the same, adding, "We are reminding our employees about frequent hand washing, and we are regularly cleaning and disinfecting our facilities and equipment. Importantly, we are asking that our drivers, pilots, and other employees stay home from work if they feel sick."
UPS will also be helping in relief efforts, the company notes that "As with other global humanitarian crisis events, we are helping with relief related to COVID-19 and will continue to seek opportunities to assist our communities in need."
There are more specific questions people may have about iwith package deliveries even as they become more important in this new homebound era.
How badly will my shipments and deliveries be affected?
At the moment, they will be affected to the degree retailers like Amazon can dispatch orders, but other from that point of dispatch onwards, not much should change. There may be a delay of a day or two due to everyone ordering everything at the same time, but it shouldn't be too onerous once a parcel has been dispacthed. Again, stress is on "at the moment."
UPS notes that it has "maintained delivery services except where limited by government restrictions. We have also worked in partnership with governments around the world to obtain exceptions that allow our shipments to continue in restricted areas."
Could shipments and deliveries eventually stop?
It depends. FedEx says that "work and travel restrictions may affect shipments inbound and outbound to and from impacted areas, as well as shipments moving within those areas." Case in point, the mail still runs in Italy.
On the other hand, if the situation reaches a crisis point in a city or two, the postal service there may be temporarily suspended by the national government as part of a strict lockdown measure. For instance, Wuhan and Lombardy both had deliveries suspended temporarily.
What measures are companies taking to keep customers and drivers safe?
Delivery drivers have been given general advice like washing their hands, disinfecting their equpment, and self-isolating if they feel ill. Contact with customers has also been reduced to almost nothing. Packages and letters will be delivered a safe distance from customers if necessary.
FedEx adds that it is "temporarily suspending most signatures typically required for FedEx Express and FedEx Ground deliveries in the U.S. and Canada. The signature suspension also includes those normally required as part of our FedEx Freight operation in the U.S., our same-day service, as well as in our FedEx Office retail stores and onsite locations at various retailers in the U.S. "
In the UK, Royal Mail will be doing the same. For any post that requires a signature, postmen will log the name of the person accepting the signature instead, after stepping a safe distance away of course.
Is it safe to receive a shipment?
The short answer is yes. With the new adherence to contactless deliveries, any unnecssary touching between customers and drivers would be limited. There's no chance from catching the COVID-19 virus by touching the cardboard, as per the WHO, so you're probably going to be fine.