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Covid-19 disrupts postal deliveries in Bishop's Stortford area as 37 Royal Mail workers are sent home to self-isolate

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Postal services in the Bishop's Stortford, Sawbridgeworth and Stansted area continue to be disrupted this week after staff at a sorting office had to self-isolate following five workers testing positive for Covid-19.

It is believed that up to 37 people operating out of the Sawbridgeworth sorting office in Station Road have been told to stay at home, meaning postmen and women have been unable to deliver mail in the build-up to one of the service's busiest times of the year.

The situation has affected deliveries for the last two weeks, with householders left waiting for medication, hospital appointment letters and Christmas parcels. The service will continue to be disrupted until the majority of staff start to return to work from Saturday (Nov 28) and clear the backlog.

Royal Mail said workers had been drafted in from outside the area and it was "doing all we can to keep the operation going".

“A number of members of staff are self-isolating through the Test and Trace service. We are increasing resources at Sawbridgeworth to support our colleagues. We are working hard to provide the most comprehensive service we are able to," said a spokesperson.

"Throughout this crisis, every decision we make puts the health of our people and customers first – we were the first UK company to put in place social-distancing measures in relation to parcel delivery. We pioneered contact-free delivery. Standard ways of working have been revised to ensure that colleagues stay two metres apart.

"Despite our best endeavours, it is possible that some areas of the country may on occasion experience a temporary reduction in service levels due to coronavirus-related absences and necessary social distancing measures at their local mail centre or delivery office.

"In such cases, we always work hard to get back to providing a normal service as quickly as we can. We always endeavour to keep our customers as informed as we can of any changes to our services."

Residents commenting on Bishop's Stortford and Stansted community Facebook pages complained of a lack of information from Royal Mail about how or when their post would be delivered.

Angela Pykett, of Tanners Wharf in Stortford, said: "We have had no mail delivered for nearly 2.5 weeks. I popped up to the sorting office as I was awaiting important medical letters & was given what post had been sorted. Some was dated the 4th of November. I can't keep popping up to the sorting office due to having an autoimmune disease. I have tried to ring the sorting office to get an update on when our next delivery will be made and can't get any answer. Which I assume is because they are short staff."

Gill Walmsley posted on Stansted Matters: "I'm waiting for delivery of 10 different parcels or post from 2 weeks back – I'm receiving nothing at all."

Fellow villager Rachel Pocknell added: "They’re going to be really busy when they do get back, trying to catch up with the backlog, poor people!"

Stansted postwoman Denise Humphreys spoke to the Indie while isolating at home. She said that it would be difficult for workers from outside the area to navigate the area they knew so well, but she said the feedback she had received from residents had been very understanding.

"The majority of people in Stansted just wish us all well. Royal Mail have looked after us and tried to keep us safe, but this is just something that's happened. Most of us postal workers have a really good relationship with our customers. I've been doing my round for about 15 years and don't want to let people down, but we have had a lot of support."

Royal Mail has a dedicated section on its website https://www.royalmail.com/coronavirus for more information about postal services and how they are being affected during the pandemic.

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