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Yelp to allow users to filter businesses based on vaccination requirements

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Restaurant review app Yelp has introduced a new feature that will allow users to filter restaurants and other locations based on vaccination requirements and staff vaccinations. The app's new update will tell Yelp users what restaurants, bars, spas, and more have their staff fully vaccinated, and which businesses require guests to be vaccinated to enter, as states around the country introduce new requirements to combat the rise in COVID-19 cases. 

"With the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the COVID Delta variant, we're seeing an increasing number of businesses implement new safety measures to protect their employees and communities," Yelp said in a statement Thursday. "Users will be able to filter by these attributes when searching for local businesses on Yelp and will easily see 'Proof of vaccination required' indicated on restaurant, food and nightlife businesses in search results."

Yelp said the new feature is an effort to help consumers understand how specific businesses are operating "as pandemic guidelines continue to evolve." Users who want to check on how local businesses are abiding by guidelines can simply add the "Proof of vaccination required" filter to their Yelp page, and the banner will display on every listing they see. In addition, another filter will allow users to search for businesses where all staff members are fully vaccinated. 

The news comes as states have implemented new policies to respond to rising COVID-19 infection rates. As of Thursday, the Delta variant accounted for 93% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Major companies like Google and Amazon have pushed back their return to office dates as variants have continued to spread, and health officials are continuing to emphasize the importance of vaccination. 

Restaurants and businesses on Yelp that activate their vaccination efforts will automatically be placed under "protective measures" from the company to prevent "review bombing," where customers place false bad reviews to protest a restaurant's policies. Since the beginning of the year, Yelp said it has removed almost 8,000 reviews for violating review bombing guidelines. 

On Tuesday, New York City mayor Bill De Blasio announced the city would begin requiring proof of vaccination for indoor dining, fitness and entertainment. Residents must show they are vaccinated in order to attend most major events in the city, according to the mayor. 

"It's time for people to see vaccination as literally necessary to living a good and full and healthy life," De Blasio said

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