As consumers look for ways to continue supporting their favorite local businesses, their personal health and safety remains a critical part of the decision making process. And for businesses, we know it’s especially important to efficiently communicate their current service offerings and health and safety practices to customers — in fact, we saw consumer interest increase 41% for businesses that added COVID-19 business updates to their Yelp pages between September 1 and December 31, 2020.*
Last summer, we revamped our COVID-19 section on Yelp pages to allow businesses to easily add information about their updated service offerings and specific health and safety precautions. To give people further confidence to support businesses in their local community, we enabled Yelp users to provide feedback on the health and safety practices they observed at businesses they patronized.
Starting today, Yelp will display if users observed, or did not observe, the enforcement of social distancing and staff wearing masks. 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.
We’ve also added new service offerings and health and safety practices, including “heated outdoor seating,” “1:1 sessions available,” and “disposable or contactless menu” to help businesses communicate how they’re continuing to adapt amidst changing health orders and consumer expectations.
Adding More Health and Safety Information to the Marketplace
Similar to how users can provide Yelp with feedback on whether a business is “kid-friendly” or “great for groups,” we’re now reflecting our users’ observations about businesses’ safety practices during the pandemic.
This information will be displayed on a business’s Yelp page under the “Health & Safety Measures” heading in the COVID-19 section. At this time, “social distancing enforced” and “staff wears masks” are the only properties where detailed user feedback can be displayed because these are the health and safety precautions that can be most easily observed by customers.
To ensure the user-generated feedback we receive is fairly represented and not based on any one person’s observation, a number of criteria must be met before it can be 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 who are logged into their account may provide feedback on a business’s health and safety practices.
- To ensure feedback displayed is based on recent visits to the business, user responses are evaluated daily and only user responses received within the previous 28 days are counted.
- For businesses with multiple locations or franchises, user feedback will only be counted and displayed on the business page for the relevant location.
The COVID-19 section on Yelp business pages will be regularly updated to reflect the consensus of user responses. For example, a green check mark will be displayed with text that indicates, “Social distancing enforced according to most users” or “Staff wears masks according to most users” when the majority of responses from users indicate that these measures are being enforced. However, 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” or, “Staff might not wear masks according to most users.” In instances where user responses are mixed, but there’s still significant feedback from users that these measures are not enforced, an orange question mark will be displayed with text that indicates, “Social distancing might not be enforced according to some users” or “Staff might not wear masks according to some users.” User generated feedback will be available for restaurants, food, nightlife, retail and beauty businesses, as well as businesses in the automotive, professional and local services sectors.
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. We’ve also implemented advanced technology to mitigate potential misuse of the feature.
Users can provide feedback on the health and safety practices they observe at a business in two ways on the business’s Yelp page. Users can share feedback via survey questions, similar to how they can let us know about other business information, like whether the business accepts credit cards. Users can also provide feedback through the “Edit” icon that appears in the top right of the COVID-19 updates section. This separate tool allows users to provide more information on a business’s health and safety practices, as well as additional information on how the business is currently operating.
In addition to these changes, we’re also notifying users, through push notifications, when a business they’ve recently connected with on Yelp— whether it’s through bookmarking, reviewing or sharing the business page— has updated their COVID-19 information.
New Service Offerings and Health and Safety Measures
As guidelines and restrictions continuously change, local businesses have demonstrated their resiliency by quickly pivoting how they operate. To help them easily communicate these updates, we are rolling out new service offerings and health precautions that businesses can select to display on their Yelp page under the COVID-19 section.
Businesses can now indicate the following new service offerings and health and safety practices:
- Staff checked for symptoms (available to all businesses)
- Disposable or contactless menu (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
- Heated outdoor seating (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
- Covered outdoor seating (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
- Indoor dining (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
- Private dining (available to restaurants)
- DIY meal kits (available to restaurants)
- Outdoor services (available to fitness and beauty businesses)
- 1:1 sessions available (available to fitness businesses)
- Limited group sessions available (available to fitness businesses)
Business owners can update this information by logging into their Yelp for Business account. In addition to indicating what services they’re offering, they can also update their hours of operation, customize a message for their customers, and more.
Additionally, to protect local businesses from unfair reputational harm related to the pandemic, we removed more than 4,000 reviews that we determined violated our special COVID-19 review content guidelines between March 1 and November 30, 2020.
As the pandemic continues to change our daily lives, we are relentlessly focused on addressing the needs of both local businesses and consumers by providing helpful and up-to-date information during these uncertain times. We remain committed to continuing to support our community through the pandemic by building solutions that help them stay connected.
* Consumer interest is measured in terms of actions users take on Yelp: viewing business pages or posting photos or reviews. Yelp saw a consumer interest increase of 41% for businesses (in the restaurants, food, fitness, and home and local services categories) that updated their COVID-19 section between September 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, compared to businesses that did not update their COVID-19 sections.