Canada Post disruptions to affect Newfoundlanders across the province
St. John’s processing plant shuttered after new COVID-19 ‘cluster’ hits postal workers
By James Lloyd
ST. JOHN’S -- A precautionary closure of the Kenmount Road mail processing plant has put 250 postal workers off the job, and some in 14 day self-isolation, causing a major disruption in delivery operations that may yet worsen.
The decision comes after at least five Canada Post employees who work at the facility contracted the virus.
The five new cases, two of which are confirmed and three more presumptive, constitute a second cluster of cases in the Eastern Health region. The first cluster emerged after an international traveler infected with the COVID-19 virus attended a service at Caul’s funeral home on LeMarchant Road. At least one of the Canada Post employees now positive for the virus attended that service.
It is unclear at this time if transmission occurred inside the plant, or whether the affected worker transmitted the virus before or after experiencing symptoms. The case emphasizes the message from Public Health authorities that anyone who suspects they may have been exposed should err on the side of caution and stay home, and that anyone experiencing the onset of symptoms should complete the government’s online COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool at gov.nl.ca/covid-19, or call 811.
The suspension of mail and parcel delivery services will continue until at least the end of the week, as the mail processing plant will require clearance from Public Health authorities before being allowed to reopen. The building has been cleaned and sanitized twice, but workers say that they have ‘lost trust’ in the crown corporation.
“It’s a fear of the unknown.”
A source inside Canada Post told Newfound News that workers in self-isolation have been directed by Public Health authorities to count Monday, March 23 as “day one” of their stint at home. It is unclear at this time how many of the 250 workers at the Kenmount plant are in self-isolation, or how many will be able to return to work should the plant reopen before the end of the isolation period on April 6.
Canada Post says the disruption of mail delivery services in the St. John’s metro area could cause delays elsewhere at the province, raising the spectre of leaving recipients of physical social assistance cheques suddenly without an income. In a press conference, Premier Dwight Ball said the provincial government is aware of the problem and is working on a solution.