Couriers vs. coronavirus: part 2. Is the delivery of goods via courier parcels safe during a pandemic?

It’s not really a question worth asking : during a pandemic, delivering goods by courier parcel is the only solution – a safer form of shopping has not yet been invented. Therefore, we should follow rigorously the procedures for the safe sending and receiving of parcels.

Responsibility for safety during courier services lies with both the couriers themselves and their customers – online stores and people who are shopping.

The most important recommendation: limit direct contact

Courier companies quickly implemented restrictions to the way they operate to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. To protect couriers and customers, the carriers are no longer  requiring signatures for most deliveries . Most companies encourage non-contact deliveries: the package is left by the courier on doorsteps. When you ship a package, it should have a consignment note (available on the courier’s website) printed on your home printer and be left on your doorstep to be picked up by a courier.

You should also remember that – in accordance with the new policy of many courier companies – a courier may refuse to deliver a package to the door or to enter the building. Therefore, you must be prepared to leave the building to collect your delivery.

If for some reason your parcel will be handed over by the courier, keep a safe distance from the courier and make the whole operation as quick as possible. Unless absolutely necessary, you should not open the package and check its contents in the courier’s presence. If you have a mask and disposable gloves, it is worth putting them on.

Do not lie to the courier

One of the most effective ways to mitigate the spread of the virus, at least in the courier industry, is … honesty. If you are placed in quarantine, be sure to inform the courier about it. It is obvious that you really need the goods ordered, however, if you are sick and infect a courier, the virus could be spread to dozens and maybe hundreds of other people that the courier will visit.

In such a situation you should inform the carrier or the sender about the risk, so you can agree upon the best place and time for delivery of the package to avoid contact with a courier.

How to safely unpack and pack a package?

The best way to collect the package is in disposable gloves and a protective mask, and stay protected in this way while opening the package. If you have appropriate disinfectant, you should spray the package with it before unpacking. When your ordered goods can be left for a while because you don’t need them immediately and they will not suffer due to such a prolonged storage, you can apply a 14-day quarantine to the package. In most cases, this will not affect the possibility of returning goods or filing a complaint procedure, as more and more sellers are currently using long return periods of up to 100 days.

When you decide to open the package, you should avoid touching your mouth and eyes with your hands during this operation. After you have removed the goods from the outer packaging (for example the cardboard box) and disposed of it, you should wash your hands thoroughly before you start unpacking the goods from their original packaging.

Similar precautions should be taken when preparing a package for a courier. It is safest to use a mask and protective gloves while packing. This is especially important for people who send parcels as part of their business operations.

Do not choose cash on delivery and use parcel lockers

An important precaution is trying not to use the “COD” payment method, which significantly prolongs contact with the courier. If you can’t pay by bank transfer, you should try to use a payment card instead of cash. In China, banks sterilise banknotes using ultraviolet light and high temperature, and leave them for a 14-day quarantine before they put them back into circulation. The virus stays on banknotes for a relatively short time, but the money goes from hand to hand, which means that they are as effective in transmitting infection as a handshake.

The risk of infection can be significantly reduced when you choose delivery to a parcel locker. This form of delivery excludes direct contact with the courier. If you use disposable gloves when dealing with parcel lockers, you may feel completely safe.

The pandemic also boosted interest in the development of various automatic contactless forms of parcel delivery. Automatic sorting, automated warehouses, delivery using autonomous cars and drones – for these solutions a pandemic is a time of intensive testing, as the epidemic, like a war, is an opportunity for accelerated experimentation with new technologies. So we’ll see what the near future will bring.