Does my postal worker have to wear a mask when delivering the mail?

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 8:41 AM EDT
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Do postal workers have to wear a mask when delivering the mail? It's a question several WCAX News viewers have reached out asking us about.

Matthew Granai of South Burlington says he's seen one postal worker walking in and out of the Harborview Senior Living Facility without any protective gear.

"How hard is it for someone to put a mask on while they run in a building?" said Granai, whose mother lives in the South Burlington nursing home. "I saw the mail delivery happen. And while the mail delivery person was inside, I said goodbye to my mother and I was waiting in my car for the mail delivery person to come out, and asked him, 'Why no mask?'"

For him, it became personal. He says his concern is not only about the health of his mother, but all of the residents of Harborview. The CDC says older people are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and recommends wearing masks as a way to slow the spread. Granai says if that worker won't, he thinks someone else should do the job.

"I understand if somebody has a mental or physical health condition that just prevents them from putting on a mask. Fine, assign somebody else to deliver to that building," Granai said.

We asked the U.S. Postal Service whether masks are mandatory for their delivery workers. They say while they're encouraged, they aren't required.

"We provide all of our employees with gloves and face masks and hand sanitizer and anything they need to keep themselves and the customers safe while they are out delivering," said Stephen Doherty, a USPS spokesman.

He says that not only are employees given what they need to protect themselves and others, but that the Postal Service is telling their employees to work not just in the community, but with the community.

"Some states or even local governments do have ordinances that do require the wearing of masks or other face coverings, and we do instruct our employees to follow those guidelines," Doherty said.

To help with social distancing, Doherty says to just let the mail carrier drop off the mail. Don't try to take it from them. But what about when you have to mail a package or letter? Expect changes in the post office.

"When you come into one of our retail lobbies you're going to see signs on the front doors that recommend there are only so many people allowed at a time in the lobby. And then when you get inside the lobby you're going to see markings on the floor to keep people six feet apart," Doherty said.

You can also expect barriers to keep social distancing with employees and plexiglass shields, as well as payment being closer to the customer and extra cleaning inside the post office. If you have to mail a letter, you can.

Harborview responded to the concerns in a statement to WCAX saying, "We are aware of the situation at Harborview Senior Living. The health and safety of our residents, resident families, and staff are our number one priority. Harborview, our Independent Living Community, is currently in the process of integrating additional steps that are being taken in our Assisted Living and Residential Care communities in striving to keep the community as safe as possible."