Royal Mail has suspended almost all of its mail services to Europe amid a series of new transport restrictions over worries about a new – more contagious – strain of coronavirus in the UK.
A number of countries in Europe have banned travel from the UK in a bid to halt the spread of the new Covid variant, which Boris Johnson has said could be up to 70% more transmissible than the old virus strain.
In a statement on Monday, Royal Mail said it had “temporarily suspended” all mail services to Europe – apart from those to the Republic of Ireland – due to “coronavirus transport impacts”.
“Items that are already in the system will be processed as normal and made ready for dispatch,” it said. “These items will be held securely until we are able to get them to their relevant destinations.”
“We’re closely monitoring the situation and are ready to open our services as soon as we are able to once the restrictions have been lifted. We continue to explore all options.”
The postal service also warned that “severely limited” air capacity meant that services to Canada and Turkey were also experiencing delays.
But it is not just Royal Mail affected by the transport restrictions – DHL warned that a number of its parcel services would also be suspended in the UK.
In a statement on its website, DHL said that moves by European governments to restrict travel links from the UK – including the closure of ferry ports – had disrupted the business’ transport links.
“As a result, we have unfortunately been forced to discontinue all DHL Paket International, DHL Paket Connect, DHL Europaket and Warenpost International service to the UK and Ireland, effective immediately and until further notice,” it said.
“All shipments bound for the UK and Ireland, including bulky goods, will be returned to sender immediately. This may also apply to items you have already posted with us.”