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Google Maps to add accommodation finder for medical staff

Image credit: João Marcelo Martins | Unsplash

Google is aiming to make it easier for medical workers to find free or discounted hotel rooms by introducing a special feature to its Maps.

As the coronavirus pandemic has spread, hotels have been offering their rooms to NHS staff in a bid to help reduce the risks, such as medical staff use of public transport or taking the virus home to a vulnerable member of their family.

Healthcare professionals, first responders and other essential workers will soon be able to use a new filter in Google Maps, as well as in the main Google search, to help them find available accommodation.

Google said it is working with hotel partners including Choice Hotels International, Hilton, and IHG Hotels & Resorts, as well as the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Other hotels offering special rates are being encouraged to add themselves via Google My Business.

The feature is launching in the UK and US first, although Google hopes to roll it out in other countries “as soon as possible”.

Google is also adding a new Accessible Places option, to give greater wheelchair accessibility information to users.

With Accessible Places switched on, a wheelchair icon will appear to show places with an accessible entrance, displaying details such as accessible seating, toilets and parking.

If it’s confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance, that information will also be shown on Maps.

Accessible Places will be available to Google users in the UK, US, Australia and Japan initially, with other countries to be added later.

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