An Post says spike in staff off work due to Covid is affecting some delivery services

‘Temporary strain’ on postal resources comes amid new antigen test delivery push

An Post has said a spike in the number of its staff out of work due to Covid-19 was placing a "temporary strain" on its resources, which was impacting on delivery services in some local areas.

In a statement, An Post said that like many businesses it was “dealing with a significant increase in Covid-19-related absence, which is placing a temporary strain on our resources”.

A number of post offices had been forced to close temporarily; these offices were mainly located in rural areas, with often a very small number of staff.

“While all parts of the business are operational, there are some localised impacts on normal delivery service levels,” a spokeswoman for An Post said.

“We have a range of contingency plans in place, and our staff and postmasters are working hard to minimise the impact on customers,” the spokeswoman said.

The recent surge in new Covid-19 infections related to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, and associated numbers of people self-isolating as close contacts of cases, has led to significant disruption for businesses and public services.

An Post apologised for “any inconvenience this rapidly changing situation may cause” customers, adding the health and safety of staff was its priority.

Closed branches

Earlier in the week An Post said it had had to close 10 post offices, as staff were out of work on Covid-related leave.

The number of closed post offices has since increased slightly, but remains less than 2 per cent of An Post’s 920 branches. Where a post office is forced to temporarily close, arrangements are made for social welfare benefit payments to be available for collection from a nearby post office.

The strain on staffing comes as the postal service has been tasked with delivering an increasing number of free antigen tests to people, on behalf of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

An Post was working with staff and the Communications Workers’ Union, “to support the HSE with speedy delivery of antigen tests”, a spokeswoman said.

“We are very conscious of the urgency of the test kits and despite the impact of Covid-19 on staffing, we’re doing everything possible to get them sorted and delivered to customers across the country,” she said.