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Google Maps to alert users to COVID-19 restrictions, crowded transport

Google is adding features on its Maps service to alert users about COVID-19-related travel restrictions to help them plan their trips better, the Alphabet Inc. unit said Monday.

The update would allow users to check how crowded a train station might be at a particular time, or if buses on a certain route are running on a limited schedule, Google said. It would also alert users to coronavirus-related rules, such as whether a public transit system requires users to wear masks.

The transit alerts would be rolled out in 14 countries, including Argentina, France, India, Netherlands, the U.S. and the U.K., the company said in a blog post, noting that it plans to add more countries in the future.

The new features would also include details on COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions on crossing national borders, starting with Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

In recent months, the company has analyzed location data from billions of Google users’ phones in 131 countries to examine mobility under lockdowns and help health authorities assess if people were abiding with social distancing and other orders issued to rein in the virus.

Google has invested billions of dollars from its search ads business to digitally map the world, drawing 1 billion users on average every month to its free navigation app.

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