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The restaurant and business review site on Tuesday announced that it will start displaying information about whether a business is enforcing protocols like social distancing and mask-wearing for staff during the pandemic, by prompting users to include those details in their reviews.
“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," reads a blog post from Yelp.
Yelp also added updates to its platform that will notify users if a restaurant has "heated outdoor seating,” “1:1 sessions available,” and a “disposable or contactless menu.” The updated information can now be found under the “Health & Safety Measures” heading in the COVID-19 section of the businesses' Yelp pages.
Users leaving reviews will now be asked if a business enforces social distancing, or if staffers wore masks, along with other safety prompts. Yelp will denote which policies are enforced with a green checkmark. If a business has a questionable policy, it will be marked with an orange question mark, suggesting a practice may not be enforced.
With COVID-19 cases still rising at alarming rates around the country, more consumers are taking caution when entering public places, and they’re specifically seeking out a business’ pandemic safety measures. Yelp said consumer interest in adding COVID-19 updates to its pages increased by 41% between Sept. 2 and Dec. 31, 2020.
The review website last summer revamped its COVID-19 section to let businesses add information about their updated offerings, including specific health and safety precautions, to help boost consumer confidence. Individuals were able to write feedback on health and safety practices after visiting a retailer, local store or restaurant.
The update comes at a time when small businesses continue to struggle. The Paycheck Protection Program, a lifeline to keep small businesses afloat, began accepting applications again Monday to first-time borrowers, and allowing second-time loan recipients to apply again on Wednesday, according to new guidance from the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department. The new program is aiming to bring relief to the economy after 140,000 jobs were cut in December.