Come next Tuesday, get ready to say: “Hello, Pope Francis; goodbye, post box!”

The United States Postal Service today announced that it will remove 50 blue collection boxes around D.C. for the duration of the pope’s stay, from Sept. 22 through Sept. 24. “Government officials and law enforcement will cordon off sections of the downtown area as a security measure,” USPS explained in a press release. “This action will restrict the ability of postal employees to collect and deliver mail. Therefore, the Postal Service will temporarily remove some blue collection boxes.” Mail service will continue; it’s just that people won’t be able to drop off envelopes at some of their usual post boxes.

USPS has placed notices on the individual boxes indicating the date they’ll be removed, and customers inside restricted zones have been informed of “the changes to their delivery methods for the applicable period.” The service will replace the signature blue boxes by Sept. 25, at the following locations:

Theresa Doherty, a spokesperson for USPS, said expected road closures will not affect mail delivery, adding that all Post Offices will remain open during the papal visit. “We remove collection boxes in areas that are closed so that customers do not drop mail in boxes that carriers cannot reach,” Doherty wrote in an email to City Desk. “It is simply logistical so that mail can be accepted into our system the day that it leaves a customer’s hands.”

In Philadelphia, however, Mashable reports that residents in eight different ZIP codes will not receive their mail during Francis’ stay there from Sept. 26 to the next day. The city’s mayor, Michael Nutter, has said that the pope’s visit will be “the largest event in the City of Philadelphia in modern history.” A mail disruption hasn’t been reported in New York, where Francis will address the U.N. and give mass at Madison Square Garden, among other things.

So if you’re wondering where all those blue boxes went next week, blame the Pope. You can also thank him for the disappearance of selfie sticks.

Photo by EraserGirl via Wikimedia Creative Commons

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