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Yelp to display user feedback on COVID safety practices

Business listings will reflect guests’ observations around social distancing and mask wearing.
Photo courtesy of Yelp

Business review site Yelp will now display user feedback about restaurants’ enforcement of some COVID-19 safety guidelines.

The company, which counts millions of restaurants among its listings, said in a blog post Tuesday that the update is intended to give consumers confidence as they spend at local businesses.

The foundation for the new feature was put in place over the summer, when Yelp allowed users to begin providing feedback about whether a restaurant they had visited enforced social distancing or mask-wearing among staff. Now, Yelp will display that information in aggregate on a restaurant’s listing under a section called “Health & Safety Measures.”

A green checkmark will indicate that a majority of users observed social distancing being enforced and/or staff wearing masks. An orange question mark means that a majority of users said those measures weren’t being enforced, or that responses were mixed. The information will be updated “regularly” to reflect the latest consensus, Yelp said.

Social distancing and mask-wearing are the only two categories that will be assessed because they can be easily observed by customers, the company said.

For restaurants who might be concerned about the accuracy of the information, the company said it has safeguards to ensure that feedback is fair. The business must receive “several user responses with consensus from multiple users” about health and safety practices before that information is displayed. Responses are evaluated daily, and only responses from the past 28 days are considered to make sure feedback is based on a recent visit. And for restaurants with multiple locations, feedback will only be displayed on the listing for the location in question.

Yelp said that as of Tuesday, the orange question mark appeared on only “a couple hundred” businesses out of the millions on its site.

In addition to the new user feedback, restaurants also have the ability to provide information about health and safety measures they’re taking. For instance, they can include that staff are checked for COVID-19 symptoms or that they offer contactless menus or heated outdoor seating. 

Yelp has been aggressive about incorporating customer feedback into its listings. In October, it began alerting users when a business had been accused of racist behavior.

“There is a clear need to warn consumers about businesses associated with egregious, racially-charged actions to help people make more informed spending decisions,” Yelp said in a blog post at the time.

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