How the USPS, FedEx and UPS Are Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

How the USPS, FedEx and UPS Are Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic The coronavirus pandemic has forced many businesses and services to shut down, either temporarily or permanently. However, national postal services and courier companies have continued to operate since they’re part of essential infrastructure. They’re trying to work as normally as possible in order to get things delivered on time, but it would be wrong to say that postal and courier services have been completely unaffected by the pandemic. How are the United States Postal Service, FedEx and UPS responding to the situation?

Expected Delivery Times and Shipping Delays

For their part, postal and courier services are doing their best to deliver mail and packages as promptly as possible, but shipping is a complicated process with many parties involved. While domestic delivery has been affected less than one might think, the international shipping industry has been hit hard by the pandemic for a number of reasons.

The main reason is that many countries have closed their borders to prevent the spread of the infection. As a result, many airlines have suspended most or even all of their passenger flights, which has led to the reduction of global shipping capacity. The thing is, passenger flights are commonly used to carry freight; national services and courier companies used to lease space on passenger flights to deliver mail and packages. Since there are almost none passenger flights now, cargo capacity has reduced drastically. Sailings have been canceled, too, which has affected delivery by sea.

In addition, many governments have imposed certain restrictions to protect their population from the coronavirus. Although these restrictions normally don’t apply to the movement of goods and mail, new border controls, local protective regulations and quarantine measures may lead to delays in shipping to/from countries with strict lockdown policies. Finally, employee shortage and the increase in e-commerce orders and shipping, both of which are consequences of the pandemic, also contribute to shipping delays.

The bottom line is, the USPS, FedEx and UPS continue to operate as normally as possible under the circumstances, but it may take longer for your international mail and packages to arrive due to a global mail slowdown. Many postal services and couriers have already expanded their expected delivery times accordingly.

Employee and Customer Safety

Employee and customer safety is one of the top priorities for the USPS, UPS and FedEx during the pandemic. In order to minimize the risk of transmission, they follow the CDC guidelines, which enables them to reduce health risks and to safeguard their operational and business continuity.

The USPS, FedEx and UPS make sure that their employees who can’t work remotely (and there are hundreds of thousands of them) are properly supplied with masks, gloves, sanitizers and cleaning products, as well as reinforce safe workplace behaviors. Post offices and courier locations are cleaned and disinfected more frequently, the number of customers in retail facilities is limited, and customers are asked to maintain a safe distance from one another and staff. Markings on the floor and barriers at the counters help protect both customers and employees.

Employees with symptoms of respiratory infection (especially those associated with the novel coronavirus, such as cough, shortness of breath and fever) are strongly advised to stay at home, since they may be putting their co-workers and customers at risk by showing up to work. Similarly, customers with such symptoms should refrain from visiting post offices and UPS/FedEx locations.

In order to minimize physical interactions, most couriers now provide contactless delivery: instead of handing your package over, the delivery person leaves it at your door, knocks on the door or calls you to inform about the package arrival, steps back and waits until you open the door and retrieve the package. In addition, you won’t be asked to sign the proof of delivery; instead, the delivery person will simply ask you to verify your name. No-contact package pickups work the same way.

By the way, making the most of online services offered by postal and courier companies is a great way to protect yourself and people around you form the infection. For example, if you need to get a package delivered, you don’t have to make a trip to the post office. Instead, you can purchase a shipping label online, print it out, attach it to the package, and schedule a package pickup with the carrier or leave it in the carrier’s drop box. With PostageMaker, you can print USPS, UPS and FedEx labels with a discount, saving money during these hard and uncertain times.

Please note that it is safe to receive mail and packages from coronavirus-affected areas. According to the World Health Organization and the CDC, the risk of getting infected by touching a package or letter that has been exposed to different conditions and temperatures during transportation is very low (but you still must wash your hands after touching it though!).

Changes in Operation and Services

While postal services and courier companies are doing their best to operate as normally as possible, they did have to introduce some changes to their operation and services. For example, UPS has suspended their money back guarantee service for all shipments, regardless of their origin and destination. In a number of countries, pick-ups and deliveries have been suspended or impacted in certain zip codes due to lockdown measures.

FedEx has also suspended money back guarantee for its services (FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, FedEx Office) until further notice. It is also implementing a temporary surcharge on all FedEx Express international parcel shipments.

The USPS has extended the mail hold period from 10 days to 30 days before returning the unclaimed items to the sender, for the sake of businesses that have temporarily closed down and can’t receive mail. It has also announced that customers are entitled to a full refund of their postage costs when service to the country of destination is suspended.

You should also keep in mind that some post offices and courier locations may have been temporarily closed or changed their opening hours for the duration of the pandemic. So if you really need to visit one, make sure to check whether its open in order to avoid making an unnecessary trip.