By KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Yelp has expanded features prompted by COVID-19 to allow users to input their own feedback about the safety measures at restaurants, bars and other local businesses.
“Starting today, Yelp will display if users observed, or did not observe, the enforcement of social distancing and staff wearing masks,” Akhil Kuduvalli, head of consumer product, said in an announcement about the new function. “We know many businesses are prioritizing the health and safety of their customers. This new update further highlights how businesses have adapted to keep their customers safe, and aims to instill confidence in consumers to continue supporting local businesses.”
The service offerings section has also been updated to include information about heated outdoor seating, contactless menus and more to help businesses share what they’ve done to adapt for consumers during this time.
Yelp has implemented a number of criteria that must be met before the user-generated feedback is displayed:
- The business must receive several user responses with consensus from multiple users on whether or not social distancing is being consistently enforced or if staff are regularly seen wearing masks.
- Only Yelp users logged into their account can provide feedback.
- User responses are evaluated daily and only user responses received within the previous 28 days will count.
- For businesses with multiple locations or franchises, user feedback will only be counted and displayed on the business page for the relevant location.
Additionally, the platform will now send a push notification to users that have recently connected with a business on Yelp once it has updated its COVID-19 information.
Below is a list of the health and safety practices that restaurants and bars can include on Yelp:
- Staff checked for symptoms
- Disposable or contactless menu
- Heated outdoor seating
- Covered outdoor seating
- Indoor dining
- Private dining
- DIY meal kits
The newly launched feature will denote that the majority response user data is correct with a green check mark next to the above measures in text.
“If a majority of user responses indicate that these measures are not enforced, an orange question mark will be displayed with text that reads, ‘Social distancing might not be enforced according to most users,'” Yelp explained.
When responses from users are mixed, even if there’s significant feedback, an orange question mark will appear.
“At launch, the orange question mark is only displayed on a couple hundred businesses out of the millions of businesses on Yelp — making it relatively uncommon as of today,” the company said in a statement. “We’ve also implemented advanced technology to mitigate potential misuse of the feature.”
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