Are postal carriers following new safety guidelines?
Yes, carriers are wearing face coverings or masks in areas where it’s required by health authorities, and some mail delivery procedures are being temporarily modified to reduce health risks and conform to social distancing guidelines. For example, when a signature is required carriers will enter the first initial and last name of the recipient rather than having the recipient sign. Carriers and other postal employees may also ask customers to stand back or close screen doors when mail is being delivered to residences and businesses.
Are Post Office branches open during the outbreak?
Yes. Employees are being directed to practice social distancing when interacting with customers and follow health safety guidelines such as frequent hand-washing. Sick employees are being told to stay home.
In addition, cough and sneeze guards have been installed at counters, tape or other markers are being employed to enforce proper social distancing, and the number of customers in a location at one time is being limited. Customers entering branches are being asked to wear face coverings in areas where health authorities require them.
I need more stamps. If I don't go to the Post Office, where can I buy them?
Buy stamps online at usps.com. In addition to buying stamps, the online account with the Postal Service allows you to print shipping labels, request pickups and more — all without leaving home.
Stamps are also often sold behind counters at supermarkets, drug stores and other retailers, if you choose to make an essential trip (or if a caregiver is shopping for you).
I have family members who need hand sanitizer. I have extra. Can I mail it to them?
Since most hand sanitizers and wipes contain alcohol, which makes them flammable, the Postal Services requires them to be shipped by one of three surface-transportation methods: Retail Ground, Parcel Select or Parcel Select Lightweight. These services are available only at Post Office branches.
I need to send a letter overseas. Will it get there on time?
It depends. The Postal Service is warning of delays or suspension of international deliveries to and from dozens of countries due to flight cancellations and actions by foreign governments. (See the list of impacted countries.)
Can I still apply for a passport at the Post Office?
Yes, but only by appointment; no walk-ins. However, the U.S. Department of State, which issues passports, is warning of significant delays to issue a new passport or renew an expiring passport due to the pandemic.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect new information.