LOS ANGELES - With a new wave of coronavirus cases sparked by the spread of the delta variant, the company Yelp announced the implementation of new safety measures to protect their employees and communities.
In a press release issued Thursday, Yelp added two free attributes — "proof of vaccination required" and "all staff fully vaccinated" — for business owners to help consumers understand how their business is currently operating amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"At Yelp, we are committed to providing consumers with reliable and useful information to help them decide where to spend their money, and at the same time, we aim to level the playing field for all businesses," Yelp wrote. "That’s why we’ve long invested in mitigating misinformation on our platform, to give consumers access to trusted content while helping businesses focus on what they do best: provide a great customer experience."
Users will be able to filter by the attributes when searching for local businesses on Yelp and will easily see "proof of vaccination required" indicated on restaurant, food and nightlife establishments in search results.
"To help protect businesses that may experience backlash for their vaccination policies, we are proactively monitoring Yelp pages of businesses that activate these attributes," Yelp noted.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also announced Yelp’s initiative during a White House COVID-19 task force briefing Thursday.
"America’s businesses large and small, universities and medical schools and other institutions, are stepping up on vaccination requirements," Jeffrey Zients, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said. "And our message is quite simple: We support these vaccination requirements to protect workers, communities and the country."
It’s important to point out that businesses will have the choice to activate the two attributes on their Yelp page. Businesses that currently require masks from customers and staff can activate "masks required" and "staff wears masks" attributes as well.
The company pointed out a recent rise in reviews focused on "people’s stance on COVID vaccinations rather than their actual experience with the business."
Yelp has attempted to mitigate against vaccination stance-related reviews through the placement of "unusual activity alerts" on a Yelp page when the company uncovers an influx of activity in response to a business gaining public attention for its stance on COVID-19 health and safety practices.
Since January 2021, Yelp said it has placed more than 100 unusual activity alerts on Yelp pages related to COVID-19 health measure incidents, which has resulted in the removal of nearly 4,500 reviews for violating its content policies.
And this isn’t the first policy the company has put into place to allow users more transparency during the pandemic.
In January, Yelp announced it would indicate based on customer reviews how well restaurants were enforcing certain COVID-19 health and safety precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing.
The company said the feature was put in place so future customers could be aware of each restaurant’s specific health and safety precautions.