Drivers help keep the wheels turning during lockdown

Drivers help keep the wheels turning during lockdown

Head of Consumer Research | ParcelHero

The Government’s decision to ensure school provision for the children of delivery drivers has helped keep couriers, delivery drivers and truckers working; and, while it’s far from ‘business as usual’, most UK and international destinations are still being routinely served by couriers, says David Jinks MILT, Head of Consumer Research at the home delivery specialist ParcelHero.

It was good news that the Government recognised the vital role delivery drivers play in keeping the nation fed and provisioned by acknowledging they are key workers. It was helpful to see drivers were included in the list of key workers whose children will continue to be looked after by schools, because their parents need to be able to go to work. Admittedly, this decision has been watered down subsequently to ensure, if there is another parent not involved in key work, they should look after driver’s children, rather than hard-pressed schools. But it’s the thought that counts…

Of course, just because the question of childcare is being addressed, that doesn’t mean it’s business as usual for couriers and drivers, any more than it is for the businesses they serve. But most domestic and international courier services remain in pretty good health, despite the coronavirus crisis; though individual international services have been cancelled, and there are significant delays to certain regions.

The coronavirus outbreak has created a massive growth in home deliveries which has resulted in some home delivery services being stretched to near breaking point and it was essential to avoid more delivery drivers missing work. Many British supermarkets have gone on a hiring spree to recruit the significantly increased number of drivers needed at this time, and a number of other welcome measures, such as the end of night-time delivery curfews, are also helping. These measures are all helping keep the nation fed and shelves stocked; though of course a lot more needs to be done.

The Government has also reconfirmed its advice not to travel abroad does not apply to parcel shipments. The Government’s latest guidance says ‘International and domestic freight transport is classified by UK government as an essential activity... The advice against non-essential travel is not intended to apply to international and domestic freight transport.”

And importantly there has also been a relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules. These involve the replacement of the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 11 hours, and replacement of the GB daily driving time limit of 10 hours with 11 hours. There are a number of other changes made around rest periods, etc. These two temporary relaxations will run until at least 23:59 on Tuesday 21 April 2020. 

In more changes from the routine, the UK’s eight pallet networks have joined together to offer their services for the movement of emergency supplies for critical services. The UK’s pallet networks are uniquely placed to ensure timely and reliable supply of emergency goods to anywhere in the UK.

As well as UK destinations, the majority of international destinations continue to be served, though it is important to note not every courier is delivering to every region. A glance at the ParcelHero international courier services guide will show all the international couriers still serving specific destinations, together with estimated transit time and the cost. As particular services with all the leading couriers are revised or cancelled, the web site will be updated, so every service you see will be currently available for booking.

Be aware, however, that some usual service conditions and money back guarantees will not be valid during this period, as couriers battle to adapt to new border closures and coronavirus lockdowns.

One final point that needs emphasising is that people need not be afraid of passing on or catching the virus when sending or receiving domestic or international parcels and non-organic goods. Both the World Health Organisation and the Robert Koch institute have confirmed there is no evidence that an infection with any type of coronavirus is possible through contact with objects or packages, including those arriving from areas where cases have been reported.

And the new measures all couriers and retail delivery companies have developed have also helped both drivers and customers feel more secure, such as leaving items by front doors if they are too large for the letter box, standing back two metres and confirming delivery when the customer accepts the parcel.

Conditions are changing daily for our industry. But all drivers, whether delivering food to homes or British goods to the Continent, deserve praise and respect for showing flexibility and, let’s say it, some bravery, in continuing to work as much of the rest of the country locks down at home and the front door becomes the front line.