Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Google Maps rolls out COVID-19 transit alerts

To help users avoid crowded public transport and road closures due to travel restrictions.

Google Maps to help users navigate COVID-19 restrictions when traveling

Google has rolled out a number of new transit features aimed at helping users travel safely via car or public transport as countries begin to reopen following closures brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the latest release of the Google Maps on Android and iOS, Google Map users will receive alerts about whether travel will be affected by any COVID-19 restrictions, such as the requirement to wear a mask on public transport or if there are COVID-19 checkpoints or restrictions along the driving route.

"Getting from A to B can be more complicated these days. Because of COVID-19, it's increasingly important to know how crowded a train station might be at a particular time or whether the bus is running on a limited schedule," Google Maps product management director Ramesh Nagarajan wrote in a blog post.

"Having this information before and during your trip is critical for both essential workers who need to safely navigate to work and will become more important for everyone as countries around the world begin to reopen."

See also: Google Maps turns 15: A look back on where it all began

Users navigating to medical facilities or COVID-19 testing centres will also receive alerts reminding them of facility safety guidelines and to verify eligibility for testing to avoid being turned away, Google said.

In addition, Google said to help users avoid crowded public transport, users will be able to see the times of when a station is historically more or less busy, and have access to live data showing how busy it is currently compared to usual levels.

Aggregated and anonymised data from users who have opted into Google Location History, as well as data from local, state, and federal governments or from their websites are being used to power the capabilities, according to the search engine giant.

Transit alerts will initially be rolled out in Australia, the UK, the US, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, and Thailand.