With cases of the coronavirus — also known as COVID-19 — yet to peak in most countries, there’s likely to be plenty of disruption in the coming months as stores, restaurants, and other customer-facing businesses deal with staff shortages caused by illness, self-isolation, and the like.
With that in mind, Google is encouraging business owners to make sure they keep their “my business” listings for Maps and Search up to date should the virus impact their daily operations.
New information recently added to a Google support page reads: “If your business is affected by COVID-19, update your Google My Business profile to provide the most accurate information to your customers.”
To keep everyone informed and up to date, Google is encouraging business owners to edit their listing’s opening hours should they change, and to include information on whether COVID-19 is affecting their operations in other ways. So, besides details on any disruption caused by the virus, information can also be added outlining any extra services being provided. Messages of reassurance could also be included, such as information on the implementation of more robust cleaning efforts or similar measures.
Many businesses already use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep customers in the loop, and that’s not expected to change. But they might not be so quick to update their business listings on Google, which is why the company is asking them to consider such action as the virus is expected to cause increasing disruption.
Google itself is already taking action to deal with the rapidly developing situation, on Tuesday telling its tens of thousands of employees in North America to work from home until at least April 10, if their role allows it.
Most people who contract COVID-19 are likely to suffer only mild symptoms, though they’ll nevertheless be advised to stay home until they make a full recovery and to prevent further spread of the virus.
One way to protect yourself is by regularly washing your hands with soap and warm water for about 20 seconds, about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday — or a different song if you’d prefer. More information about the virus can be found on the World Health Organization‘s website.
As of Tuesday, March 10, there have been 959 reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and 28 deaths, according to the Maryland-based Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.