As the Coronavirus outbreak hits Europe and North America, shippers should expect more delays due to regional postal service and courier delivery restrictions and air cargo capacity limitations.
Italy currently has the most cases of any European country, and authorities ordered quarantines and business closures in affected areas.
The U.S. Postal service, FedEx, and UPS all advise shippers that local operations in the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy have either been severely restricted or are temporarily suspended.
The Lombardy and Veneto regions are in northern Italy and cover major cities such as Milan and Venice.
Several U.S. carriers have suspended flights to Milan, which further reduces air cargo capacity to the region.
This could impact mail services more as the U.S. Postal Service has to rely on commercial airlines and courier services to transport their mail and packages.
Last month, the U.S. Postal Services warned of delays to China and Hong Kong because of the reduced air cargo capacity as many commercial airlines suspended flights.
Expect Resumption of Operations to be Slow
Even when Italian authorities open up the affected areas and local postal and courier deliveries resume, online merchants should advise customers that clearing the backlog of stopped shipments may also take some time.
The U.S. Postal Service is also reliant on other postal services for tracking updates, so it is possible tracking information may be slow or inaccurate when operations resume.
Here are the links to the service alerts for Italy:
Note: We were unable to confirm a service alert for DHL for Italy. Presumably, with a quarantine, they have similar operational restrictions. At the time of this post, DHL still only shows a service alert for China.
Have you had shipments delayed because of the Coronavirus outbreak?
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