The COVID-19 disease is transmitted through respiratory droplets, but the touching of objects also entails the risk of infection, thus postal services are affected by the epidemic, too. In Hungary, universal postal services are provided by Magyar Posta Zrt., and only the body entitled to adopt measures in an emergency situation may order such services to be restricted or interrupted. Universal postal services include the clearance and delivery of official documents, letter items up to 2 kg, parcels up to 20 kg, and mail written in Braille on business days, as well as the services related to registered mail, registered mail with delivery confirmation and value declaration services.
NMHH is currently not aware of any major slowdown in domestic postal services, yet international deliveries are already slagging: air transport has been reduced, flights are being cancelled, and the delivery of postal items to certain countries has slowed down or stopped completely. In the context of the current epidemic, the Authority calls on consumers to take the following advice:
- Elderly people and those suffering from a chronic disease are advised not to go to the post office at all, and even young people should leave their postal transactions for later if possible. In extreme cases, postal items may also be quarantined to protect the health of postal workers or addressees.
- Instead of postal transactions initiated at post offices, electronic mail and forms of communication should be used if possible. Consumers are advised to pay their utility bills by bank transfer instead of using postal orders.
- If it is absolutely necessary to make transactions at a post office, it is recommended to collect all the postal orders to be paid and letters to be sent, and make such transactions all at once, possibly using the dedicated machines for the payment of postal orders and posting normal letters in public post boxes in pre-stamped and addressed envelopes. Only one customer shall be allowed to stay in a post office, all the other customers shall be waiting outside in a queue, at a one-metre distance from each other.
- When postal items are delivered, direct contact with the postmen should be avoided. If addressees are required to confirm delivery with their signature, they are advised to put on gloves and sign the forms using their own pens.
- Before sending parcels or placing orders online, consumers are advised to obtain information from the selected service provider about the prevailing terms and conditions, since parcel delivery is usually not included in universal postal services but is carried out through market-based services, and the providers of the latter are free to decide on the provision, possible limitation or suspension of their services within the legal framework in force. Due to the increased workload, longer delivery periods may be expected. When ordering products online, it is recommended to select an online shop that guarantees disinfection and provides information on the estimated time of delivery. Consumers are also advised to select a trackable mode of delivery if possible, which allows them to follow the delivery of their orders on the website of the logistics company and often on the website of the online shop as well.
Addressees in quarantine must make sure that a person with a power of attorney or otherwise authorised to receive their postal items be available to receive them at the gate of the building or at the door of the flat indicated in the address, since postmen shall not enter territories in quarantine nor come into direct contact with quarantined persons.