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As the spread of Coronavirus continues to lead to Transatlantic flight cancellations, mail carriers are warning that international mail could be delayed as a result.
One carrier, UKP Worldwide, explained in a service alert that "Due to the ongoing situation with the coronavirus and actions being taken to reduce the spread of the virus, some airlines have announced flight cancellations, which could result in delivery delays of international mail." They particularly noted a delay in mail to the USA, explaining that "Due to a reduction in flights because of the coronavirus, we are currently experiencing delivery delays of 1-3 days to the USA. We are working with our suppliers to resolve this and will keep you informed of developments."
As reported this morning, a Presidential Proclamation by Donald Trump is restricting travel from 26 European countries in the Schengen Area. Although this doesn't include the UK, the knock on effect of flight cancellations from Europe is likely to see cargo capacity reduced, which could in turn lead to further delays in Transatlantic mail.
A number of mail carriers have suspended services to China, Hong Kong, Italy and other nations known to particularly stricken by the spread of Coronavirus. Others could be affected if their offices or distribution centres are required to close down to prevent the spread of the virus.
Royal Mail have released a statement saying that "We are actively monitoring this rapidly evolving situation. We take the health and safety of our people very seriously. We have provided guidance to our colleagues to help prevent the spread of any infection. We are doing so in line with guidance from Public Health England. We have strong contingency plans in place to ensure our customers are looked after and mail is kept moving in the event of localised service disruption. In the event we need to close one of our units, this decision would be made in line with Public Health England guidance. Royal Mail has many years’ experience of contingency planning for a number of different scenarios. We will follow the Government’s advice and work closely with the relevant authorities."
If international mail to the USA through Royal Mail is particularly affected, keep an eye on their International Incident Bulletin page, which explains delays and potential problems with delivery.
If you are planning to mail any urgent documents or parcels by post, it's best to do so as early as possible, or to avoid doing so altogether if alternative digital arrangements can be made.