Starting Tuesday, Yelp will use crowdsourced customer input to display whether or not restaurants, bars, and other businesses are properly observing COVID-19 guidelines. Similar to how users can give feedback on attributes like “good for kids” and “good for groups,” they’ll now also be able to weigh in on the health and safety measures like “social distancing enforced” and “staff wears masks,” Yelp wrote in a blog post.
These observations will be displayed on businesses’s Yelp pages in the COVID-19 sections that have been in place since last June. While businesses can indicate additional safety measures they’ve put in place — including “heated outdoor seating,” “DIY meal kits,” “disposable or contactless menu,” and more — users will only be able to submit direct feedback on the matter of social distancing and staff mask usage. Yelp users can provide this feedback by answering pop-up surveys or by clicking the “Edit” icon next to the COVID-19 section on a business’s page.
The review site will only display this information on a business’s page if there have been an adequate number of user responses that reach consensus over the past 28 days. If the majority of responses indicate that a health and safety measure is being enforced, then there will be a green check mark shown next to the measure, e.g., “Social distancing enforced according to most users.” If responses are mixed or negative, then there will be an orange question mark next to the measure, e.g., “Staff might not wear masks according to most users” or “Staff might not wear masks according to some users.”
Like with any aspect of Yelp, the potential strength and weakness of this update lie in its crowdsourcing from potentially imperfect arbiters, whose observations — both diligent and off-the-cuff — could affect individual businesses’ survival, although the company notes in its blog post that it has “implemented advanced technology to mitigate potential misuse.” Hopefully that will be enough to keep this feature as helpful as possible.