Is it safe to get items delivered during the coronavirus crisis?

People wait outside the co-operative bank on day seven of lockdown Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

People wait outside the co-operative bank on day seven of lockdown Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

With the country locked down and people only allowed to go shopping for essentials many are looking online to buy what they need – or want.

For a parcel to get from the warehouse to your front door, it has to go through several steps and quite a few pairs of hands.

Not all the items being ordered are essentials. A Hermes spokeswoman said that while the company was delivering some clothes: “we have seen a strong increase in orders for items such as hand sanitiser and soap, as well as electrical equipment to facilitate home-working and schooling children at home.”

So here’s what you need to know about getting stuff delivered throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Who is still delivering?

Most online delivery services and couriers are still delivering items. Some will take longer than normal, because of staff shortages or extra steps for safety.

Shane O’Riordain, managing director of marketing, regulation and corporate affairs at Royal Mail, said: “We are delivering the many items that people order online six days a week across the UK.

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“Despite our best endeavours, it is possible that some areas of the country may experience a reduction in service levels due to coronavirus-related absences at their local mail centre or delivery office.

“The delivery of parcels and letters is a key way of keeping the country together and helping many people who may not have the option to leave their homes.”

MORE: Ipswich lawyer explains government advice on working during coronavirus

Who has stopped doing deliveries?

Some clothing retailers have stopped taking online orders.

Among them are Next, TK Maxx, River Island and Primark.

A statement on the Next websites says: “We have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close our website shopping, warehouse, distribution operations and stores until further notice. At this time, the health and safety of our colleagues and customers is our primary focus.

“This means you can only view products on the website but not purchase any right now.”

Is it safe to get something delivered?

According to the World Health Organisation, it is still safe to receive packages throughout the coronavirus crisis.

The WHO website says: “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes Covid-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”

If you are still concerned about receiving a package, the WHO recommends cleaning the surface you think could be infected with a disinfectant and washing your hands with an alcohol-based cleaner or soap and water.

Many companies are now offering ‘contact free’ deliveries. Courier Hermes offers several ways of doing this, including leaving the package in a safe place or having the delivery driver sign for the package rather than the customer.

Find all of our coronavirus coverage here.

What about safety for delivery workers?

Delivery companies have brought in measures to protect those working in warehouses and sorting offices.

This includes issuing staff with PPE and hand gel, as well as changing how they work in order to keep employees two metres apart wherever possible.

Mr O’Riordain said: “Processes have been further reviewed to minimise the passing of work between colleagues. We are implementing a new rule that means there will only be one person in a Royal Mail delivery vehicle at any one time.

“We are also implementing initiatives including staggered meal breaks. These new social distancing measures are aimed at offering further protection for our colleagues.”

However, in America some Amazon employees have been striking in protest against how the company is protecting its employees against coronavirus.

Can I still go to the Post Office and send something?

Yes, some post offices are still open. You can check if your local branch is one of them here.

A Post Office spokesman said: “We are providing our postmasters with all the latest advice from the UK government and Public Health England as to how to stay safe. Many post offices have floor markers and other information on posters to help customers stay two metres apart.

“Additional protective equipment is also being sourced for postmasters and this week we will start a phased distribution of perspex screens for all branches that don’t have a fortress position. ”

You can check if your local branch is open here.

Are things likely to change?

Probably not.

While some are calling on individual fashion companies - such as ASOS - to shut down their deliveries, the majority will probably continue.

In Spain and Italy, two countries at a later stage of the outbreak than the UK, deliveries are continuing but staff shortages may be affecting how they operate.

Keep up-to-date with the latest news about coronavirus in Suffolk by joining our Facebook group or subscribing to our daily newsletter.

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