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Google Maps adds features to help you travel safe during the pandemic

You’ve been careful during COVID-19 to wear a mask, practice social distancing and whenever possible stay at home. But the fact is essential workers and other people do have to--or frankly want to--venture out, and you obviously want to do so with as little risk to your own health and the health of others.




This week, Google released a refreshed version of Google Maps on Android and iOS with potentially helpful local alerts and other features that aim to make navigating by public transit or by car safer.


If you’re driving, Google Maps can surface local alerts that notify you of COVID-10 checkpoints and other restrictions along the route, even if you’re crossing over from the U.S. into Canada and Mexico. If the destination is a medical facility or COVID-19 testing center, Google Maps can display an alert reminding you of eligibility and facility guidelines so that you’re not turned away or adding strain to the healthcare system.


Such alerts will be available in the U.S., as well as Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, and South Korea.


Meantime, Google Maps may also help you avoid crowds when you’re taking public transportation—that’s the goal anyway. Last year, Google introduced a feature that made predictions of how crowded a bus, train or subway is likely to be. If you find yourself on one of those crowded trains or buses, or perhaps one that is pretty empty, you can let fellow travelers know. Looking up Directions in Google Maps, tap to see the Transit Details, and then scroll down to find crowdedness predictions. From there, you can indicate that the train or bus you’re riding is not crowded at all with lots of seats, completely full so that the no new passengers are being picked up, or some state in between.

Google says these the transit alerts are rolling out in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and the U.S., where information is available from local agencies, with others coming soon.