Yelp reviewers will now be able to provide detailed feedback on how well specific restaurants adhere to COVID-19 health and safety practices, the business reviews company announced Tuesday. Currently, reviewers can only provide feedback on social distancing and mask-wearing because these are the practices most readily observed by restaurant guests, Yelp clarified.
Although the observations will not affect a restaurant’s overall score, the feedback will be visibly categorized in the same vein as the review app’s other categories like “kid-friendly” or “romantic” restaurants. Users can provide feedback via surveys or through the “Edit” icon in the COVID-19 section on a business’ Yelp page.
Yelp also created new COVID-era service offerings for restaurants to add to their business pages, including “heated outdoor seating,” “1:1 sessions available,” “staff checked for symptoms,” and “disposable or contactless menus.” The new information will be on display under the “Health & Safety Measures” heading of the COVID-19 section of a business page, and Yelp will use push notifications to inform users when a business they’re connected with has updated their COVID-19 information.
“Last summer, we updated the COVID-19 Health and Safety banner to allow consumers to validate if businesses were in fact operating with these health and safety measures, and since then, we’ve been evaluating the right way to display this data to help consumers feel confident about continuing to support their local businesses,” Akhil Kuduvalli, head of consumer product at Yelp told Nation’s Restaurant News. “The goal is to further highlight how businesses have adapted to keep their customers safe, and to instill confidence in consumers to continue supporting local businesses.”
Yelp has implemented safeguards to make sure that the user-generated COVID-19 feedback is as accurate as possible. Feedback must meet these criteria to be displayed on a restaurant’s Yelp profile:
- Individual user feedback will not be displayed until a consensus is met: The business must receive “several user responses with consensus from multiple users” on social distancing and mask-wearing.
- Only verified Yelp users logged into their accounts can provide feedback
- For restaurants with multiple or franchised locations, user feedback will only appear for the location relevant to the review.
- The COVID-19 section will only include data from the last 28 days and will be reviewed and updated daily.
Restaurants that have received positive feedback on COVID-19 regulations enforcement will see a green checkmark with text that reads, “social distancing enforced according to most users” or “staff wears masks according to most users.” If user feedback on safety precautions enforcement skews toward negative, an orange question mark will appear on the restaurant’s page with a corresponding message indicating that “Social distancing might not be enforced according to some users” or “staff might not wear masks according to most users.”
Yelp said that at launch only a couple hundred businesses out of millions listed on Yelp have received orange question marks.
“Due to the extensive trust and safety measures we have in place, it is rare for a business to receive an orange question mark associated with this user-generated feedback, as it is only meant to alert consumers to egregious instances of social distancing not being enforced and staff not wearing masks,” Kuduvalli told Nation’s Restaurant News. “If in the rare circumstance a business does receive an orange question mark because either some or most consumers didn’t observe social distancing being enforced or staff wearing masks, then the only way to have it updated to a green check mark is to ensure that you and your staff are consistently enforcing these health and safety practices.”
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