Trips to the Post Office may take a little longer.
Due to issues of too many people inside Post Office lobbies, two Island Post Offices are instituting a “one person in, one person out” policy for those using Post Office retail services.
On Monday, signs outside the West Tisbury Post Office made clear that those waiting to conduct business at the Post Office counter would need to wait outside.
“Per WT board of health, too many people were in line inside the lobby,” one of the signs reads. “The retail line now forms outside — one person in — one person out.”
The sign also asks people to please keep six feet distance, and to wear a mask. Another sign says only one person is allowed in the retail lobby at a time.
West Tisbury health agent Omar Johnson said there were concerns about too many people in the lobby. Johnson said he’s spoken with the postmaster to make sure people are being compliant. “Any changes to make it safer have been made,” Johnson said. “The aim was to make sure individuals were spacing properly, and that has been accomplished.”
Several Island residents waiting in line told The Times they were happy with the changes. Yvette Fogg, who lives in Chilmark, but has been getting her mail in West Tisbury for the past 20 years, said she liked that the queue had been set up outside.
“I think it’s smart,” she said. “I’d rather be outside.”
John Sparagana, who lives in West Tisbury, agreed. “I like this system better,” he said. “I think they’re doing a great job.”
Similarly, a sign reading “Social distancing enforced. One person out — one person in” was put on the door at the Edgartown Post Office. While the line wasn’t long Monday morning, those waiting in the outside queue complained about the system.
Stephen Doherty, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said Post Offices across the country have instituted changes to maintain proper social distancing, which for smaller buildings, like those on the Vineyard, means some people will have to wait outside.
“Unfortunately, in some offices that means limiting the number of people that can be in the lobby at one time,” Doherty said.
While Doherty said there will be some wait time due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will also be a delay due to the volume of packages that are being processed. “What we’ve seen is with everybody stuck at home and a lot more brick-and-mortar stores closed, a lot more people are ordering things online, so the package volumes have really surged past what we normally see at Christmastime,” he said.