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Google’s new tools could let you know when your state re-opens

Lockdowns are ending worldwide, but we’re still not close to normalcy.


What you need to know

  • As global lockdowns roll to a close, Google News will soon start highlighting information about local lockdown re-opening dates.
  • Google will also add a local news carousel in Search for easy access to timely and authoritative news about COVID-19.
  • Finally, Assistant users will now be able to verbally request locally relevant news in the U.S. from smart speakers like the Nest Mini.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic ,many states worldwide instituted lockdowns and stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the virus. With months now gone by, local governments are easing these restrictions, but it may be hard to know exactly what’s going down and when.

Google is rolling out a new tool in Google News, aimed at helping users learn crucial information regarding the status of local lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in the U.S. and Canada.

Google said on Monday:

To help each community be prepared for what’s next, the Google News app is piloting a new feature in partnership with local news publishers. We will test this in a few geographic areas in the COVID-19 special section of the app, where users can view community reopening timelines, plus updates around business and school openings. They can also see the status of the local healthcare infrastructure, public transportation, events, and sections with resources for residents looking for or wanting to help families in need.

This feature is available in more than 21 areas, ranging across both small and large newsrooms from The Raleigh News & Observer, NOLA.com, CBS Chicago, Oregon Live, and Gothamist. We will also continue to expand our coverage across the U.S., and Canada, and plan to bring this feature to products beyond the Google News app in the future.

Google will also introduce a local news carousel in Search if one makes a COVID-19 related inquiry, highlighting relevant and local information from authoritative sources. It will also enable a similar feature in Assistant, where U.S. users will be able to verbally request local COVID-19 news on Assistant-enabled smart home devices like the Nest Mini. A command like “Hey Google, play news about coronavirus in Boston” will now surface locally relevant news.

The former local news carousel will be made available in 30 countries, while the latter feature is limited to cities in the U.S.

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