Yelp adds coronavirus safety protocols to business pages

The company's new section will include a timestamp indicating when the business' information has been updated

Yelp has added a COVID-19 section to business pages to inform customers what services are available and what safety protocols are in effect.

The new section in the crowd-sourcing app aims to help business owners share details on any operational changes that have been implemented to stem the spread of the virus, including whether they offer dine-in service, outdoor seating, curbside pickup, delivery and in-person visits, as well as virtual services, the company announced Tuesday.

This comes as local governments around the nation continue to loosen their coronavirus restrictions, allowing businesses to partially reopen their doors — although it won't be business as usual. Without a vaccine, businesses are being forced to plan for what may be long-lasting disruptions.

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Through the new feature, business owners will also be able to notify their customers on whether they are regularly sanitizing, implementing physical distance protocols, providing hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes for patrons or if they are requiring masks, gloves or temperature checks prior to entry.

Consumers will also be able to check guidelines on payment methods as well as how many people are allowed inside a business at a time, Yelp said.

In an initiative first introduced in late March, businesses can create a free customizable banner for consumers that is displayed at the top of all Yelp business pages. The company says more than 380,000 businesses have already activated the free banner with a personalized message.

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"Ensuring this critical information is accurate and up-to-date is especially important during the current health crisis," Yelp said.

In an effort to do so, the company's new section will include a timestamp indicating when the business' hours of operation or personalized message was last updated.

The COVID-19 section on Yelp business pages can be found online or the company's mobile app, available to both iOS and Android devices.

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This is the latest from Yelp, which has been implementing various efforts to help businesses since the beginning of the outbreak, including a no-contact delivery option.

The company also doled out $25 million in relief primarily to independent local restaurants and nightlife businesses, by waiving fees for advertising and other products and services. Yelp also partnerned with GoFundMe so independent businesses can start fundraisers and accept donations through their Yelp pages.