UPDATE 3:15 pm: Yass Post Office will reopen tomorrow (18 October) at 9 am, an Australia Post spokesperson said at 3:15 pm.
Yass Post Office, which covers the 17,000-plus population across the Yass Valley in the Southern Tablelands, was closed suddenly on Monday (16 October) because of staff illness.
An Australia Post spokesperson said on Tuesday (17 October) that the Yass branch was closed temporarily “due to team members unfortunately falling ill with COVID-19”.
The spokesperson said closing a post office was the last resort but with staff at Yass unwell, and no backup workers available, it had no other option but to shut the branch.
She said mail deliveries in the town were unlikely to be affected but post going to rural properties via road mailboxes (RMB) would likely be delayed a day or so as their mail would be sorted in Canberra, not Yass, while the Yass Post Office remained closed.
No parcel pick-up would be available, nor would there be delivery to post office boxes while the branch remained closed.
The sudden closure sparked widespread comment on social media, with most people praising the Yass Post Office staff for always working “beyond the call of duty” and expressing sympathy for their ill health, but critical of Australia Post for making the decision so suddenly the night before the closure. The comments also criticised Australia Post’s lack of public consultation and absence of a backup staffing plan.
Many commented that the Yass Post Office was not like its city counterparts; rather, it was also a highly valued meeting place for the rural community.
Yass Post Office staff members took to social media themselves to spread the word, with one saying: “As a courtesy, I am posting this [the Australia Post notice announcing the temporary closure of Yass Post Office and the nearest available post offices] so we can reach as many people as possible due to the short notice. Thanks for your understanding.”
The Australia Post spokesperson said it apologised for any inconvenience to its customers and was “working as hard as possible to find alternative team members to staff the Post Office in coming days”.
“We’ll keep the community updated on opening hours,” she said.
In a notice pinned to the door, Australia Post advised customers of the closest alternative branches – from Bowning, 11 kilometres away, to Gungahlin, 54 kilometres away.