Ofcom has published a statement, following reports of delays to Royal Mail deliveries during the recent rise in coronavirus cases.
“This is clearly a very difficult time for people across the country, including many businesses and their workforces. The pandemic has placed significant pressure on Royal Mail – particularly in recent weeks as cases have risen sharply. So it’s important the company takes all necessary steps to keep both its staff and customers safe.
“We have recognised this as an emergency situation under our regulatory framework, which means Royal Mail can change its operations to manage the challenges it faces, without the need for formal Ofcom authorisation. We continue to monitor Royal Mail’s performance carefully and will remain in close contact with the company to ensure it is providing the very best service it can to customers.”
Royal Mail announced on 28 April 2020 a temporary reduction in the frequency of letter delivery from six to five days a week, with the change removing the Saturday letter delivery. This was in response to issues caused by the Covid-19 crisis, including high levels of absences and necessary social distancing measures.
Under the Postal Services Act 2011, the regulatory conditions relating to the universal postal service provide that Royal Mail is not required to sustain these services without interruption, suspension or restriction in the event of an emergency.
Ofcom has acknowledged in this context that the Covid-19 pandemic created an emergency situation. Accordingly, the statutory framework allows Royal Mail to modify its operations without formal authorisation, if it considers this necessary to respond to the emergency challenges it faces in sustaining the universal postal service.
We continue to keep any measures taken in response to the emergency under review as the situation develops.
Royal Mail has resumed the Saturday delivery of letters, as of 13 June 2020.