We all want to limit our potential exposure to COVID-19 as much as possible, but do we really need to be disinfecting our deliveries and post?
The question of disinfecting deliveries has understandably come up a number of times this past month.
To get the facts and advice on how to handle deliveries as safely as possible, I spoke with Public Health England and Royal Mail.
Here’s what the risk is, what you should do if you’re receiving a delivery and what additional measures have been put in place.
How do contactless deliveries work?
All couriers are limiting contact with customers during the outbreak. This means you’ll no longer be asked to sign for parcels.
Most courier services ask that you agree a safe place with them in advance. If there’s no safe place available, most couriers will follow these steps:
📦 The driver will leave the parcel on your doorstep
📦 They will then knock on your door and retreat two metres away.
📦 The driver will wait for you to retrieve the parcel and ask for your name as proof of delivery
If the courier hasn’t followed these steps you can ask them to do so through the door before opening.
Some couriers, such as DPD and Hermes, might also take a photo of the parcel (not of the recipient) as evidence of delivery.
What does Public Health England recommend?
First and foremost, Public Health England (PHE) says it’s best for people to practise good hand hygiene.
That means you need to regularly wash your hands with soap and water.
If soap or water isn’t available and your hands are visibly clean then sanitizer gel can be used – but proper hand washing is the most effective method and this should be your first choice as soon as you’ve handled anything from outside your home – including parcels, post or other deliveries.
Is there a risk of catching coronavirus from a delivery?
PHE told us that while not a lot is known about COVID-19, it is likely to behave in a similar way to other coronaviruses.
How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors, such as the surface the virus is on, whether it’s exposed to sunlight, different temperatures/humidity and exposure to cleaning products.
In most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 24 hours, and even more so after a further 48 hours.
Because COVID-19 is a new illness, PHE says it isn’t yet known exactly how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses are mainly spread by cough and sneeze droplets, and ‘indirect contact with infected respiratory secretions’.
PHE said that appropriate infection and prevention control measures are being implemented to reduce the risk to the public.
We reached out to the biggest delivery firm in the UK – Royal Mail – to find out more.
What’s Royal Mail doing to reduce the risk?
Royal mail told us that it’s committed to keeping the mail moving – delivering letters and parcels across the UK, including to those who find it difficult to leave their homes.
Royal Mail has committed around £15 million on buying equipment such as hand sanitiser, gloves and other additional protective measures designed to keep its people safe and the vast majority of mail can be posted safely through the letterbox without any interaction needed at all.
It has implemented a raft of changes designed to implement social distancing measures, including a new rule that means there can only be one person in a Royal Mail delivery vehicle at any one time.
You can expect your Royal Mail deliveries to work like this:
✉ If you’re self isolating: If the item does not require a signature, it is asking you to safely advise your postie that you’re self-isolating (for example, talking through the door). They should then place the item at the door and step aside to a safe distance while you retrieve it.
✉ Signing for items: Your postie will not hand over a hand-held device to you to capture a signature but instead log they will the name of the person accepting the item.
✉ Receiving a large delivery: If your delivery won’t fit through your letterbox, it will be left at your door. Having knocked on your door, you postie will then step back to a safe distance while you retrieve your item. This will ensure your item is delivered securely rather than being left outside.
✉ Care home deliveries: To keep the mail moving but prevent the spread of Coronavirus, Royal Mail has made arrangements to deliver to a central point, such as reception, instead of individual addresses within care homes.
Along with these measures, Royal Mail has been promoting regular hand washing with soap and water, enhanced disinfectant cleaning of its communal areas on a daily basis, as well as providing latex gloves to any staff who request them.
How have you been approaching deliveries at home? Are you being extra cautious or carrying on as before? Let us know in the comments.