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Google is looking to keep summer vacationers informed about COVID-19 travel restrictions for specific destinations so they can plan ahead.
When users look up flights or hotels in a certain area using Google Search, the site will inform them if there are travel restrictions or advisories. It has recently added a new function that lets users see specific restrictions, like whether they will need to quarantine when arriving at a certain destination or if they need proof of testing.
The new tool lets users get updates about travel restriction changes.
"You can now also track travel advisories or restrictions for your destination and get email updates. If you are signed in to your Google account, you can toggle 'Receive an email if this guidance changes.'
"You'll be notified when restrictions are added, lifted or reduced. These updates are country-specific, with state-specific information available in the United States," Richard Holden, vice president of product management and travel at Google, wrote in a blog.
WHY IT MATTERS
While restrictions have been gradually loosening up, the COVID-19 pandemic is still not over. In the last seven days, the CDC reported 367,697 COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
However, the COVID-19 vaccines are quickly rolling out – and in many states they are the key to traveling. According to the CDC, 54.9% of individuals over the age of 18 have at least one dose of the vaccine, and 38.4% of adults are fully vaccinated in the U.S.
While many states and countries are offering quarantine-free travel to vaccinated individuals, there is still vaccine hesitancy. According to the Kaiser Family Fund COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, 61% of adults over the age of 18 want to get the vaccine ASAP or have already had the shot.
That number is lower among 18- to 24-year-olds (49%) and 30- to 49-year-olds (54%). Individuals over age 65 were the ones most likely to report wanting the vaccine or already having it, at 82%.
THE LARGER TREND
Big tech has created a slew of tools to help users navigate COVID-19 related information. In January, Google connected to a site that helped users find vaccine information and locations. Since then, Facebook and Apple also began to connect their users to the COVID-19 Vaccine Finder tool.
Google has also been active in using Maps to inform users about travel plans. In September, the company added a feature that let users see the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the area of the map they are looking at.
The maps are color-coded by case number and cover 220 countries and territories.