The new policies were announced today (Tuesday, March 24).
Shane O’Riordain, Royal Mail managing director of regulation and corporate affairs, said: “We understand the important role we have to play in helping people to stay connected. We are working hard to deliver mail to every part of the UK.
“Mail is still scheduled to be collected and delivered as normal. This is a fast-moving situation and local service levels may at times be impacted by local absences.
“Royal Mail takes the health and safety of its colleagues, its customers and the local communities in which we operate very seriously.
“From today we have introduced a range of new social distancing measures aimed at offering further protection for our colleagues. Standard ways of working are being revised to ensure that, wherever possible, colleagues stay two metres apart.
“We are implementing a new rule that means there will only be one person in a Royal Mail delivery vehicle at any one time. Processes have been further reviewed to minimise the passing of work between colleagues.
“And we are calling for the washing of hands when colleagues enter and leave Royal Mail buildings, as well as at regular times during the day.
“In order to protect further both our people and customers, we are temporarily not handing over our hand-held devices to customers to capture signatures. Postmen and postwomen will instead log the name of the person accepting the item, and can sign on their behalf.
“This will apply to all deliveries that require a signature. Additionally, for all customers (including those who are self-isolating) where we need to deliver any parcel that won’t fit through their letterbox, we will place their item at their door.
“Having knocked on the door, we will then step aside to a safe distance while they retrieve their item. This will ensure the item is delivered securely rather than being left outside.
“If they are unable to come to the door at all we will issue a ‘Something for You’ card, advising of other ways they can arrange to get their item.
“For example, by getting a friend or family member to collect the parcel from our local Customer Service Point on their behalf.
“In this situation, and to keep their mail as secure as possible, they will need to bring along the card we left and a form of ID in the name of the person the item is addressed to.
“In line with guidance from the UK’s Chief Medical Officer and public health authorities, we are advising colleagues that good hand hygiene is the first and most important line of defence. We have taken a number of measures and provided preventative guidance to our colleagues.
“This includes promoting regular hand washing with soap and water. We have good supplies of soap and paper towels. We are also providing disposable latex gloves, available on request. We are keeping colleagues informed through notices, and internal TV updates.
“The hand soap that we provide is effective for hand washing and good hand hygiene in line with the guidance from public health authorities.
“It is also possible to use sanitiser or gel. However, there are long lead times for these products. We are trying to get it. But, so is everyone else.
“We continue to act on public health authority advice which is updated daily.
“In the meantime we share regular updates and information with colleagues. We have also adopted enhanced disinfectant cleaning of communal areas in all Royal Mail sites on a daily basis. We are monitoring the situation closely.
“Public health authorities have advised people receiving parcels are not at risk of contracting 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 public health authorities for people to wash their hands more often than usual using soap and hot water.
“These actions form part of a package of measures being taken by Royal Mail to protect both its customers and its colleagues.”