Protocols for parcel deliveries by some of the UK’s largest couriers have been changed to reflect increasing concerns over health and safety in light of the current pandemic.

As online purchases soar, Hermes said it was introducing “contact-free delivery” to everyone’s doorsteps, and requesting that customers choose a safe place for parcels to be left.

If a place is not chosen then its couriers will leave it in a place they believe is safe, even when there is someone in the property.

In a message to customers, Hermes CEO Martijn De Lange said that for parcels requiring signatures, couriers will do this on behalf of the customer, “to avoid unnecessary contact via hand-held devices.

“This will only happen when the customer opens the door and gives their name for security reasons. The courier will stay at least two steps away.”

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Yodel said it was adhering to government guidelines for maintaining social distancing and couriers were not required to knock on doors if its carding process had been followed.

If no safe place is available or a proof of delivery is required then drivers will place the parcel on the doorstep, ring or knock on the door, “and then where safe to do so, retreat two meters away from the door,” it said.

“Where the customer answers the door, they will explain that they are making a delivery and ask the customer for confirmation of their surname.

“We have created a new dropdown option ‘Unable to sign Covid-19’. This will be selected and then the driver or courier will enter the customers surname.”

In a statement, Yodel added: “We continue to issue regular communications to all our internal and front-line colleagues based on the latest government guidelines, we are updating our daily key messages and all sites have regular updates on their information screens.”