Earlier this month, North Grenville residents experienced unexpected delays in mail delivery. It turns out that the delays were caused by a problem that has become all too familiar in the past two years – an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst several Canada Post staff members working the local offices.
Frustrated locals have shared their stories of waiting on important documents or packages to arrive in the mail. Mail delivery vehicles were observed sitting idle during normal work hours, and those entering the Kemptville Post Office during the peak period of the delays reported that face masks were mandatory inside. Speculations suggested that as many as five or six staff were out sick with COVID-19, though these numbers could not be verified.
The issues were not limited only to the Kemptville Post Office. Mail delays of over a week were also reported in Oxford Station and the South Gower area, and delays in other parts of North Grenville were almost certainly experienced as well. The return to normal service has been gradual, as can be expected in the wake of having multiple staff away with illnesses. The phone number listed for the Kemptville Post Office did not appear to be in service when called.
After more than two years of pandemic life, a much-anticipated “return to normal” is starting to settle in. Those who test positive for COVID-19 are no longer required to isolate for a set period of time. Instead, Ontario rules are now once again focusing on an “all respiratory illnesses” approach to handling the spread of infection. As with other respiratory illnesses, those with COVID-19 are now instructed to stay home until their symptoms have been significantly improving for 24 hours, even if this takes less than the previous mandatory five-day isolation period.
Despite loosened public health rules, outbreaks of illness will always be a threat to the smooth operation of any organization. In the case of COVID-19, just because staff are able to return to work a couple of days after infection if they are feeling well enough does not mean that the illness won’t keep them out for longer. COVID-19 is also likely to continue carrying a certain “stigma” for years to come, given the impact that it had on day-to-day life for an extended period of time.
Staffing shortages are becoming more familiar in recent years not only because of COVID-19, but also because of staffing shortages across almost every industry. Many businesses are now offering very competitive wages in an attempt to attract and retain staff.
The uproar over the recent post office delays shows that despite the increasingly digital world we live in, many people still rely on mail service. The mighty post office is a symbol of Canadian society that is not likely to disappear any time soon.