New Google Maps Feature Will Alert You to Coronavirus Restrictions

If masks are required on your bus, Google Maps will give you a heads-up.
If masks are required on your bus, Google Maps will give you a heads-up.
David Espejo/iStock via Getty Images

To help people travel as safely as possible during the coronavirus pandemic, Google Maps is rolling out a new update that includes government restrictions, public transit alerts, and other details relevant to your route.

As Travel + Leisure explains, the app will tell you if public transit service has been scaled back or suspended due to the pandemic, and you’ll also have access to real-time reports on how crowded a station is (as compared to its usual capacity levels). That way, you can find out beforehand whether you’ll be able to maintain social distancing at a certain time, and maybe even delay your departure until you know it’s less populated. Once you’re on your way, you can help future travelers by reporting how busy your train or bus is right in the app: Options range from “Not crowded (There’s lots of seats)” to “Full (Not picking up passengers).”

Avoiding those overcrowded subway cars is easier—and more important—than ever.Google

According to a Google blog post, the company is working with local, state, and federal government officials to make sure important regulations—like which transit systems require commuters to wear masks—are relayed to app users. In addition to public transit notifications, Google Maps will alert drivers to any border restrictions along their routes, starting with the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, with plans to expand to other countries soon.

If your destination is a healthcare facility or COVID-19 testing center, Google Maps will remind you to check the guidelines for that specific institution before you leave, since some require you to make an appointment in advance or can only accommodate drive-through visitors.

iOS and Android users who live in the U.S. should start seeing the new features in the next few weeks, though it does depend on how much data Google can access in your area. Learn more about the update—and see which other countries it’s headed to—here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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An Illinois School District Has Banned Fully Remote Students From Wearing Pajamas While Learning

The great thing about Zoom is that it's almost impossible for people to tell if you're wearing pajamas.
The great thing about Zoom is that it's almost impossible for people to tell if you're wearing pajamas.
August de Richelieu, Pexels

Having most of your interactions via video chat can be a little exhausting, but it does come with a few perks—like being able to wear your pajama pants without anybody knowing or caring. For students facing remote learning in Illinois’s Springfield School District, however, PJs are against the rules.

WGRZ reports that the dress code for Springfield’s learn-from-home plan includes a ban on pajamas, which a number of parents aren’t too happy about.

“I don’t think they have any right to say what happens in my house,” parent Elizabeth Ballinger told WCIA. “I think they have enough to worry about as opposed to what the kids are wearing. They need to make sure they’re getting educated.”

Aaron Graves, president of the Springfield Education Association, doesn’t actually appear to disagree with Ballinger.

“In truth, the whole pajama thing is really at the bottom of our priority scale when it comes to public education,” Graves told WCIA. “We really want to see kids coming to the table of education, whether it’s at the kitchen table with the laptop there or whether it’s the actual brick and mortar schoolhouse. Raising the bar for all kids and helping them get there, whether they’re in their pajamas or tuxedo, is really what’s important.”

Though the pajama prohibition was part of the regular in-school dress code [PDF], imposing it from afar will definitely be more difficult. Fortunately, the administration’s enforcement policy is pretty vague; a statement shared with WCIA explained that “there are no definitive one-to-one consequences” for wearing your pajamas to online school, and teachers will decide what to do about any given violation.

In other words, it looks like kids with easygoing teachers (and parents) will get to stay in their nightshirts, while others might have to learn their multiplication tables in tuxedos.

[h/t WGRZ]