The huge impacts that the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic has had on logistics if self-evident and cannot be understated. There are massive fallouts from the strict but necessary lockdown implemented by the government. It has also resulted in a massive challenge for logistics, with regulations varying from state to state and a lack of universal policies. The general public is also anxious about the rules and regulations regarding supply of goods, especially since the lockdown means that outside visit to local stores and shops is not possible.
In light of so many unanswered questions and unclarity regarding some very common concerns, here are some of the biggest questions regarding logistics answered.
1. Is it safe for couriers to still be working?
The short answer is yes. The courier companies are ensuring basic hygiene and cleaning protocols are being strictly implemented. This means that the delivery person not only has to wash and sanitise his hands regularly, he also has to wear gloves and a mask while out for delivery, minimising the risk of contamination, both to himself and to the people receiving the couriers.
2. Can virus be transmitted via my package?
The COVID 19 virus is a transmissible virus and can survive on exposed surfaces for a duration of upto 24 hours. While it is highly unlikely that your package will carry the virus and transmit it to you, there are a few things you can do on your part to reduce the risk of contamination. Firstly, keep the package in a ‘contamination zone’ where it can rest for a day before you open it. Second, do not open the package and touch your face after contact with the package. Finally, ensure that after opening the package you wash and sanitize your hands. If possible, use a disinfectant on the contents of your package to further ensure prevention of contamination.
3. Which products fall under essential?
Essential goods are all those goods that are necessary for day-to-day activities. So things such as rations and groceries fall under essential goods. So do your daily toiletries and washroom supplies like toothpaste and soaps. Things that are a little less necessary for daily life under the lockdown include new apparel, footwear and consumer electronics, which by virtue of being wants and not needs, can be classified as non-essential.
4. What precautions are taken for workers before delivery?
The daily delivery of essential goods is being overseen by delivery workers who have been briefed in detail about the importance of taking all the necessary measures to prevent contamination. With the lockdown in force, the number of delivery workers has thinned. Add to that the reduction in supplies, and the frequency of deliveries has reduced significantly. This means that the workers that are delivering goods have a responsibility to ensure all safety measures are taken. They are disinfected every time they complete the delivery of an area and head back to the warehouses for more supplies. They have to wash their hands before heading out for delivery again and sanitize as well. It is compulsory for them to be wearing gloves and a facemask while out for delivery. And they are strict to avoid any physical contact.
5. Is it safe to collect packages in person?
While it may be needed in certain cases, it is advised that you avoid in person collection. This means that all packages are dropped at the door so as to prevent contact with delivery workers, thus reducing the chances of contamination. Also, as an additional precaution, wearing gloves while picking up packages, washing your hands after collection and disinfecting the products is advised.
6. What are the restrictions levied in Red Zones?
Red Zones are described as the areas that have confirmed cases of Coronavirus. The local government then seals off these areas as a measure to prevent spread of the virus. Hence, movement within these zones is restricted. But that does not mean that the area is completely blocked off. Deliveries are still possible but are only dropped at the entry of buildings. The residents of a red zone are under self quarantine and are not allowed to move out of the area for 14 days, so the only way to collect supplies is via delivery.
7. What are the necessary precautions with food items?
All food items must be thoroughly washed and even packed and canned foods must be treated with absolute precaution. This means that as a practice, you must wash foods before storing and then again before cooking.
Since most of the country is under self-isolation, there has been a surge in online shopping and local deliveries for essential goods. As a result the supply chain has had to adapt to the change in demand. Stores have reduced the window for online shopping and temporarily shifted some service staff to supply deliveries. The supply chain has also had to take some of the following steps:
As the landscape has shifted, companies have moved to scenario-planning strategies which are suitable for the varying demand environments.
The need to work closely with suppliers to diversify the supply base, thus reducing the shock of sudden supply surge.
Foreseeing panic buying situations is also key. This will ensure a responsible retailer role and a smoother supply chain for the demand.
Investment in protective gear for supply-chain workers and communication via apps to manage time, availability and safety of both the workers and the citizens.