Italy – Update on the measures taken to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus

2020-03-12

The designated operator of Italy, Poste Italiane, wishes to inform other Union member countries and their designated operators that, owing to measures taken by the Italian government since Tuesday, 10 March 2020 to reduce the risk of the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the entire Italian territory has become a “yellow zone” that is subject to a number of extraordinary measures, effective until 3 April or a later date that may be communicated in due course.

As per the Decree by the President of the Council of Ministers dated 9 March 2020 (in Italian), people should stay at home, minimize their social contact and limit their movements within Italy. Travel is currently authorized within Italy only for important reasons, such as health or work. Therefore, Poste Italiane can pursue its activities only in compliance with strict ad hoc measures in line with government directives. In order to ensure that human contact is minimized, so as to preserve personal safety, it is deemed necessary to significantly reduce the workforce deployed in the logistics chain, with regard to both sorting and delivery. This will have a major impact on operations and, consequently, on quality of service for all types of inbound and outbound mail (letter post, parcels and EMS). This is expected to last until the end of the COVID-19 epidemic, which it is hoped will be by 3 April. For this reason, as indicated to the National Regulatory Authority, service delivery standards cannot be guaranteed and a situation of force majeure has been declared until the situation returns to normal.

Poste Italiane, Italy’s top employer and a key element in the country’s economy, is fully committed to playing its part in helping Italy to overcome this major challenge. A dedicated committee, involving all senior management, has been working around the clock for a number of weeks, in close contact with the relevant institutional bodies, to define and continuously adapt directives and provisions in compliance with the government-mandated precautionary measures intended to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Although Poste Italiane is fully committed to keeping its international mail processing centres, domestic sorting centres and delivery network open and operational, a number of special provisions are being implemented in the wider national interest, in order to protect employees, citizens and customers.

Consequently, restrictions are in place for registered items subject to signature upon delivery. In order to avoid human contact, parcels and registered and insured items that would ordinarily require the addressee’s signature can, with the addressee’s consent, be deposited in the addressee’s mailbox or in a secure location on their premises, with signature by the postman/woman on their portable devices. This special provision ensures that there is no physical contact between Poste Italiane staff and customers. Alternatively, if the addressee is absent or wishes to collect the item from a post office, a special notice of delivery will be left in their mailbox, with instructions for access to the post office. Of course, access to post offices is also subject to restrictions and special conditions, so as to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and protect Poste Italiane staff and customers. For the same reasons, any cash-on-delivery items will be available at post offices and the addressee will be informed by means of a special note left in their mailbox. Moreover, with effect from Monday, 16 March, Poste Italiane will be unable to accept “PostaTarget” commercial mail from direct entry channels. No other changes to service modalities are currently in place. 

A special sanitation plan, covering the entire post office network, postal premises and fleet of vehicles, has been in place for several weeks and will continue until the end of this epidemic. This entails the exceptional closure, for a few days, of the premises subject to this measure, which results in delivery delays. Personal safety equipment is also being provided throughout our retail and logistic networks so as to protect staff in their daily work, and special directives are in place to manage customers’ presence in post offices under safe conditions. 

Airports remain open, although many airlines have cancelled their flights to Milan Linate and Malpensa. As a result, Poste Italiane has opted to divert outbound mail onto certain flights from Rome Fiumicino, asking the airlines to provide road transport solutions from Milan to Rome. Poste Italiane has been informed that similar solutions are also being offered to other partners for outbound traffic to Italy. Surface traffic is not restricted. 

Poste Italiane is, of course, constantly monitoring the situation and will take prompt corrective action in response to any developments. It will also provide timely updates in the dedicated section of its website, available at https://www.poste.it/emergenza-covid19.html. The provisions set out above will remain in effect until further notice.

Poste Italiane thanks all Union member countries and their designated operators for their understanding, and will provide updates on any relevant changes via EmIS.