- Yelp for Business deployed free "proof of vaccination required" and "all staff fully vaccinated" tags to help businesses better communicate their COVID-19 policies on its website, the company said on Thursday.
- Restaurants and other businesses can add vaccination tags to their pages by logging into their Yelp for Business accounts and adding the designations under the "Amenities and more" section. Businesses can also add "masks required" and "staff wears masks" tags as well.
- As restaurants add vaccination requirements for diners to eat inside, some have seen an uptick in one-star reviews from diners who are critical of the practice. Yelp, which said it has been increasingly monitoring pages for these types of reviews, has seen "review bombing" incidents increase since the pandemic.
More negative review activity could be expected now that New York City will soon enforce a vaccination requirement for indoor dining. Restaurants across multiple cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., have voluntarily added their own requirements for vaccinations. Not all diners have been happy with this safety measure, however. Nearly one-third of diners said they would leave a restaurant if they had to show their vaccine card or passport, according to a Datassential report.
Consumers and businesses can report reviews that "represent an extraordinary circumstance" such as related to COVID-19 or fueled by the media. A user operations team member will look into the review and remove it if it is found to be in violation of the company's policies. Yelp also uses internal signals to monitor unusual spikes in traffic on a particular page and its moderators can temporarily suspend the ability to post a review. After the activity has decreased or stopped, Yelp cleans up the pages so it only reflects first-hand customer experiences.
So far in 2021, Yelp also placed over 100 Unusual Activity Alerts on pages related to health and safety measures, such as requiring vaccinations for employees and/or customers, and removed nearly 4,500 reviews that violated its content policies. It also has removed nearly 8,000 reviews for violating COVID-19 content guidelines, which were introduced in March 2020 to help protect businesses from reputational harm related to the pandemic.
The platform put similar monitoring measures in place when it launched its Black-owned tag in June 2020, along with other identity attributes like Latinx-owned, Asian-owned and LGBTQ-owned. The company has removed nearly 400 reviews that had harmful content related to hateful, racist or other harmful content.