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).”

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]