The impact of the coronavirus on shops and services has understandably led many people to question whether Post Offices remain open.
On 20 March, a public message from Nick Read (CEO of the Post Office) stated that “Post Offices have been designated as an essential service” and that “the vast majority of Post Offices are open.” He went on to explain that, “where a Post Office has to close, posters should be displayed showing the nearest branch.”
So, for the most part, Post Offices are still open, except where they’re inside another shop that has had to close.
The Post Office says, “Our standalone Post Offices and WH Smiths branches are now open 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 12:30pm Saturday.” However, this is subject to change at short notice, so it’s best to check the Post Office Branch Finder to see if your local post office is open before you travel.
At a lot of Post Offices, the first hour of opening is only for key workers, and vulnerable or elderly customers. Whether or not that applies to you, keep it in mind when planning your visit.
For the most part, yes, you can. Social distancing applies, so you’ll need to stay two metres from staff and other customers. Post Offices are using markers on the floor, just like many supermarkets, to remind people to queue two metres apart. If it’s busy, you might need to wait outside until another customer leaves.
Even if your local Post Offices are still open, it’s best to avoid them. You can sort out a lot of your bills and banking from home, which is safer for you, your community, and the Post Office staff.
Most things can be done from home (apart from actually posting things or returning foreign currency). You can even buy your stamps online!
Simple banking tasks, like checking your balance and withdrawing cash, are easy to do at ATMs. If you have an online saver account, you can send money and manage your bank account online.
To pay bills, instead of going to an open Post Office you can use Payzone to:
Pay your bills (including energy, council tax, water, housing, rent, telephone, broadband and other major utilities)
Top up your mobile phone and purchase SIM cards
Top up travel cards and pre-purchase tickets for trains, trams and buses
Purchase tickets for the Health Lottery and LottoSocial
Manage online gaming accounts
You’ll need to take your electricity key and/or gas card to top up meters, a top-up card for your mobile phone (or you can buy an e-voucher), or your bill or budget card for other bill payments. You can find your nearest Payzone here.
You can manage your Post Office broadband and phone online without needing to visit an open branch. You’ll find solutions to most common problems in My Account.
If you’re struggling to pay off loans, you can apply online to request a payment break of up to three months on your mortgage, credit card or personal loan.
The Post Office’s travel insurance service is currently suspended in response to FCO advice. Anyone dealing with cancelled travel can manage their Travel Money Card online or submit a travel insurance enquiry.
Sending money overseas is as easy as filling in this form. Unfortunately, if you want to return foreign currency, you’ll need to take it to an open Post Office branch in person.
Are Post Offices open? Yes, most are. But if you can do what you need from home and avoid visiting them, it’s safer for everyone.