Google is taking steps to ensure Google Maps stops the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak which has infected more than 113,000 people worldwide. The Mountain View-based company, which is encouraging its own employees to work from home in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19, has asked businesses to ensure they inform the navigation app about any changes caused by coronavirus.
The update is designed to make potential customers aware of any coronavirus-related closures by updating their listings. A number of businesses and schools have been forced to close in order to undergo deep cleaning. According to the World Health Organisation, coronaviruses can survive on hard surfaces between a few hours or several days.
On its support page, Google addresses how business owners can leverage the My Business listings, which appear in the information section of Google Maps and Google search results, to inform customers about how their businesses are impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Google hasn’t introduced any new filters, notifications, or tools designed specifically for the coronavirus outbreak. Instead, the company iOS highlighting how business owners can use the tools already at their disposal to keep customers informed about any disruption caused by the global outbreak.
The most obvious update for any business on Google Maps is opening hours.
If staff are being sent home to self-isolate, the opening hours could be adjusted. It’s important for customers to be keep in the loop about the new timings. Google says business owners should add a note about coronavirus to their business description that displays in Maps, including any precautions the business could be taking or any delays that could impact customers.
Google informs business owners: “If your business is affected by COVID-19, update your Google My Business profile to provide the most accurate information to your customers. For example, change your hours of operation if you’re closing early, or add more details to your description. The updates will show on your Business Profile on Google Search and Maps.”
Any precautions being taken by businesses to lessen the impact of the virus should also be noted in business profiles, Google says. It adds: “Explain whether or not your business operations are affected by COVID-19. You can share information about any extra precautions the business is taking, if you’re providing any extra services to the community, or whether you’re experiencing delays.”
The news comes as Apple updated its website to inform iPhone owners that it’s possible to use anti-bacterial liquids and disinfectant wipes to clean their smartphones, tablets and MacBooks.
Britain is still in the containment phase of its four-step plan to combat the spread of the virus, although preparations are underway to gear-up for the second phase – known as “delay”. The latter could involve shuttering schools nationwide and encouraging people to work from home.
As it stands, the advice from medical official remains to wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds or more with soap and hot water. The average person touches their face around 23 times an hour. This is one of the easiest ways to get the virus, so the Government avoid is to avoid touching your face and eyes.