Coronavirus makes front door the frontline

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Home deliveries have doubled due to the coronavirus outbreak, with UK courier ParcelHero warning that retailers must change protocols.

David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero, warns that home shoppers must understand they are not at risk while shopping is being delivered and drivers must not feel they are being placed in harm’s way.

He says procedures must minimize the risk of transmission even when delivering to self-isolating households.

Some retailers are suspending the need for a signature if the customer has said they are self-isolating.

Drivers going into people’s homes is another issue, with Jinks saying there needs to be consistency about where deliveries can be left.

He said, “Many shoppers probably have alternative delivery points registered with couriers, for if they are not going to be in, such as a porch, shed or garage. Such areas might need to be shared to all retailers and drivers as potential drop-off points for both food and parcel deliveries, to minimize any need for contact.”

Sending parcels is another issue, with Jinks suggesting designating drop-off points could also be pickup points to avoid physical contact with the courier.

Whether or not people can catch the virus from parcels is a question, and what happens if the driver is off sick is also an issue.

Jinks said, “One of ParcelHero’s courier partners, Hermes, is setting a great example, by pledging £1m [US$1.3m] to support self-employed workers if they need to self-isolate as a result of the coronavirus. It has also pledged to help find someone to deliver on their behalf and guarantee that their rounds will be kept open for them for when they return.”

He added, “With the government saying it is working closely with retailers to ensure that people who self-isolate at home get essential supplies, there needs to be a single approach to delivery protocol and employee welfare so shoppers and delivery drivers can feel secure.”

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