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Travel safer with new Google Maps pandemic alerts

It can be pretty difficult to figure out how to travel safely in the midst of a pandemic, which is precisely what we’re dealing with right now. Getting from one place to the next used to be a simple process, but thanks to the COVID-19 restrictions, it’s important to know things like how crowded a subway platform is or when public transportation is actually running since schedules have been limited.

You already know and love Google Maps, including a recent design upgrade. Tap or click to find out how to use the new features. But, wouldn’t it be great if it could help navigate COVID-19?

Luckily, Google is helping users do just that with some new Google Maps features that will help wayward travelers navigate the confusing travel process. Let’s take a look at the new features Google Maps is offering users on both Android and iOS to help you get around as the world begins to reopen.

COVID-19 restriction alerts

Google Maps is now offering users alerts about COVID-19 restrictions when they travel. When you use Google Maps to look up public transit directions for a trip that is likely to be affected by COVID-19 restrictions, Google Maps will now show relevant alerts from local transit agencies.

These alerts will give you the necessary information you need to stay in compliance with government mandates. This includes information on how those restrictions will impact transit services or require you to wear a mask on public transportation, among other info.

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These transit alerts are rolling out in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, U.K. and the U.S. Google says more locations will be coming soon.

COVID-19 checkpoint alerts

In addition to necessary government restriction information, Google Maps is also introducing driving alerts, which will notify you about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along your route. This includes pertinent information you’ll need when crossing national borders and will start first in Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

You’ll see an alert both on the directions screen and after starting navigation if your route is impacted by these restrictions so you can go into the situation fully prepared for what checkpoints lay ahead.

Testing or medical facility alerts

Google Maps is also offering users alerts on medical facilities or COVID-19 testing centers. If you’re using a map to find a testing or medical facility that can help you get tested or treated for coronavirus, Google Maps will display an alert reminding you to verify eligibility and facility guidelines before heading there, to avoid being turned away or causing additional strain on the local healthcare system.

These medical facilities alerts will be available starting this week in Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea, and the U.S., and testing center alerts will be available in the U.S. as well.

Contribute to or find crowdsourced public transportation information

Google is using the crowdedness prediction it rolled out last year to let users contribute and find information on how crowded different types of public transportation is. To use this tool, all you have to do is look up Directions, tap through to see the Transit Details, then scroll down to find crowdedness predictions (where available) or even easily contribute your own experiences to the mix.

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This will give you a good idea of how risky certain public transportation is due to the crowds or choose a type of transportation that has fewer people on it than the others, all with a few simple taps.

Check historical data on crowded public transport

To ensure proper social distancing, Google Maps is offering you the option to easily see the times when a transit station is historically more or less busy to plan your trip accordingly. This feature also lets you look at live data showing how busy a type of public transportation option is right now compared to its usual level of activity.

To use this feature, simply search for a station in Google Maps or tap on the station on the map to see the departure board and busyness data, where available.

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