Google Maps Adds COVID-19 Alerts as More Cities Reopen
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As the world begins to reopen amidst the coronavirus pandemic, more people are leaving their homes and returning to restaurants, shops, and mass transit systems. But don't let the frustration of a limited-schedule bus route ruin your newfound freedom: The latest release of Google Maps includes features to help find important travel information before stepping outside.
The iOS and Android app now shows relevant alerts from local transit agencies in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, the UK, and the US, with more coming soon. "These alerts can help you prepare accordingly if government mandates impact transit services or require you to wear a mask on public transportation," Ramesh Nagarajan, product management director for Google Maps, wrote in a blog post.
Prefer the peace and quiet of a car? Check the directions screen for driving alerts regarding COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along your route—especially when crossing national borders (between Canada, Mexico, and the US).
Travel in the time of coronavirus means taking extra precautions, like verifying medical facility guidelines and testing center eligibility "to avoid being turned away or causing additional strain on the local healthcare system," Nagarajan said. Starting this week, Maps will remind users in Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea, and the US to confirm whether an appointment is necessary.
"We're showing these alerts where we've received authoritative data from local, state, and federal governments or from their websites," according to the blog. "And are actively working with other agencies around the world to bring even more of this helpful data to users in Google Maps."
Now more than ever, socially distant commuters are counting on Maps to tell them how congested their transit station and ride will be. Whether you're planning ahead or running late, the app can tell you which times are historically less busy and provide real-time data on crowds. Help authenticate those numbers by visiting Directions > Transit Details > crowdedness predictions (where available).
"COVID-19 has certainly impacted the way that we move around in the world," Nagarajan wrote. "As cities and countries across the globe adapt, we're committed to bringing the most pertinent information right to your fingertips. So when you're ready and able to, you can safely venture out."