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Yelp Adds Vaccine Requirement Information to Business Listings

Yelp announced today that it will let businesses share their policies on COVID-19 vaccinations. There are a pair of new attributes businesses can add to their profiles; one to share whether their staff is fully vaccinated, and one to specify whether customers will be required to provide proof of vaccination.

Businesses can list the attributes via their Yelp for Business accounts, allowing users of the service to find places with policies they’re most comfortable with. The ability to list vaccination policies joins a long list of pandemic-focused features Yelp has added to its service over the past year.

Early on in the pandemic, the service let businesses specify whether they offer virtual or contact-free services and later expanded this to other safety measures like whether they offer outdoor dining, or have a face masks policy for staff.

On Thursday, Yelp will begin rolling out two profile attributes, “Proof of vaccination required” and “Staff fully vaccinated,” to help consumers to understand how a business is operating concerning the pandemic.

While there is no federal mandate for businesses to require proof of vaccination, some cities are introducing their policies. Recently, New York City became the first to require proof of vaccination for indoor restaurants and gyms, and, San Francisco is now exploring a similar set of mandates. Other cities may choose to follow suit in the future.

In addition, local business owners across the U.S. are implementing their measures outside of federal or state guidelines, including requiring masks or proof of vaccination for customers or requiring their staff to be vaccinated. These choices often come at a price, as the businesses risk social media backlash and bad reviews from the anti-vaccine crowd.

Yelp’s new features will represent an attempt to help mitigate that reaction, the company explains. Yelp says it will proactively leverage a combination of automated systems and human moderators to safeguard businesses from attacks from customers if a business opts to activate either of the two new options related to their COVID vaccine policies.

In the past, businesses that gained negative public attention may have had an influx of reviews from those who didn’t have a firsthand experience with the business in question, which violates Yelp’s policy. Yelp may then alert a visitor to the business’s page that there’s the potential for fake reviews or that there had been spikes in unusual activity. The company will sometimes even temporarily block users from being able to leave reviews. And in some cases, Yelp will also need to remove false reviews or those that otherwise violate its policies.

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