Are your local restaurants, other businesses following COVID-19 rules? Yelp will now post your feedback

Are the employees at your neighborhood restaurant wearing masks? Is your grocery store vigilant about keeping customers 6 feet apart?

Now you can pass along feedback — both positive and negative — via Yelp to clue in prospective customers, just as you might offer commentary on the helpfulness of the store’s staff or the quality of the takeout meal you ordered.

In a blog post Tuesday, the San Francisco-based review website announced that it will start displaying crowdsourced feedback on whether customers “observed, or did not observe, the enforcement of social distancing and staff wearing masks.”

It’s part of an effort to instill consumer confidence, so Yelp is requiring plenty of others to agree on your assessment.

“For businesses, we know it’s especially important to efficiently communicate their current service offerings and health and safety practices to customers,” Yelp said. “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.”

Those updates allowed stores and others to note such precautions as cleaning protocols, contact-free menus, curbside pickup, virtual appointments and senior citizen shopping hours.

Yelp said the new feedback will be posted in that “COVID-19 UPDATE” section at the top of the main review page and not in users’ individual reviews. A positive consensus will be accompanied by a green checkmark. A negative consensus will be reflected by an orange question mark.

Restaurateur Randy Musterer, who owns the Sushi Confidential restaurants in Campbell and San Jose, worries that the prospect of this feedback could add “additional unneeded chaos” to what is already a challenging situation for business owners.

“I think it’s good to hold businesses accountable. The problem is, every customer is going to have a different interpretation.” For example, he said, if people are congregating outside a restaurant on a public sidewalk or street and waiting for meals, will the restaurant staff be responsible for patrolling that situation?

“There already is an avenue” for resolving those issues, he said. “Customers are allowed to complain anonymously to the health department,” which has the authority to send out inspectors and issue citations.

To prevent any “unfair reputational harm,” Yelp is instituting these rules for the feedback it will gather:

— “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.”

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