With Covid-19 having made online deliveries more central than ever this Christmas, Cumbria’s new Amazon delivery station has played a key role in the county’s festive celebrations this year. With the coronavirus pandemic having resulted in a particular reliance among communities this year on doorstep deliveries, this year’s total number of Amazon parcel deliveries is likely to be significantly higher than the already staggering 3.5bn packages delivered by the company last year. Meeting this colossal demand is a major logistical operation, and this year that operation was brought to Cumbria, as part of the company’s expansion of its delivery station numbers in response to the ever-heightening demand for online delivery services. Staff at the Longtown depot, which opened in June, have been hard at work over the past several weeks to ensure the thousands of parcels ordered by residents across Cumbria arrive in time for Christmas. Longtown’s addition to the enormous Amazon distribution network this year formed part of a sizeable expansion throughout the country. The depot was one of several delivery stations opened in the UK this year, with others starting operations in Ipswich, Redruth, Aberdeen and Deeside. The company also opened three new larger “fulfilment centres”, two in the north east and one in the midlands. All in all, Amazon’s UK permanent workforce now totals more than 40,000, with 10,000 new permanent roles created this year alone. Stefano Perego, Amazon’s vice president of European customer fulfilment, said that the company prepares “year-round for the festive season”. Part of this involves hiring seasonal staff. This year, the company has sought to fill more than 20,000 temporary positions to cope with the Christmas surge in demand. At the Longtown delivery station, Amazon aims to have hired close to 40 permanent members of staff by the end of the year, on top of nearly 100 seasonal workers hired to accommodate the demands of the peak season. One new challenge facing Amazon delivery stations in the run-up to Christmas this year is the risk posed by Covid-19. Amazon says it is taking the safety of its staff during the Covid-19 pandemic extremely seriously, having put in place more than 150 new safety measures, including staff temperature checks. The company is also providing Covid testing for all its operations employees throughout the UK, and has built its own testing laboratory in Manchester to augment the Government’s capacity for Covid testing. Fran Williams-Tanton, 24, from Penrith, has been at the depot since June, and is currently working as a temporary operations supervisor. She said she has been impressed by the number of safety measures put in place. “I think the safety measures are great, especially the ones we have in place for Covid-19. “All the site safety measures we have are to keep us all safe, so who can complain about that?” Another of Amazon’s recent Cumbrian hires is Alex Van Krimpen. He is currently working as temporary delivery station operations supervisor. He has also been pleased with the strict safety measures put in place by the company. “I was positively surprised at how much effort Amazon puts in to make the delivery station as safe as possible for everybody.” As well as playing a key role in ensuring thousands of Cumbria’s Christmas gifts are delivered in time for the festivities, the Longtown delivery station has also been having its own socially distanced Christmas celebrations. The team has been taking part in Christmas quizzes, Christmas lunches, even a Christmas-themed market to mark the festive season.