OpenTable App to Offer Vaccination Verification for Making Restaurant Reservations
As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to surge throughout the United States, an increasing number of restaurants — and some entire cities — are requiring guests to show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before they're seated indoors. Although that proof could be anything from a hard-copy of the diner's CDC vaccine card, a photo of the same card, or a local or statewide vaccine app (like New York's digital Excelsior pass), OpenTable has announced a new partnership that could help standardize that documentation.
On Monday, OpenTable said that it would be working with biometric ID company CLEAR — yes, the same CLEAR you've seen at the airport — to allow OpenTable users to display CLEAR's digital vaccine cards. According to a post on OpenTable's blog, if a diner wishes to book a reservation at a restaurant that has a vaccine requirement, that eatery will also have a CLEAR banner on its confirmation page. After double-tapping on the banner, the diner will be prompted to create a CLEAR digital vaccine card, which will connect their verified identity to their verified proof of vaccination "from hundreds of vaccine providers and national pharmacies."
When the diner gets to the restaurant, they'll just tap the CLEAR button again, and the OpenTable app will display their digital vaccine card. An OpenTable spokesperson confirmed to Food & Wine that the digital vaccine card would be stored within the secure CLEAR app, not within the OpenTable app. Once a diner has been cleared (no pun intended) to enter a restaurant, the host can tag them as "verified for entry," so that person would not have to display any proof of vaccination on future visits to that restaurant or restaurant group.
"Our partnership with CLEAR furthers our commitment to help both restaurants and diners navigate dining out in the next chapter of the pandemic," Debby Soo, OpenTable's CEO, said in a statement. "This collaboration aims to streamline restaurant entry, saving time for both restaurant staff and diners and lets everyone focus on the meal, not the logistics."
The CLEAR integration is expected to be available in OpenTable's iPhone and Android apps next month. OpenTable recently added a couple of other safety features for both restaurants and their customers, including allowing restaurants to add their vaccine requirements under the Safety Precaution heading on their profiles, and encouraging diners to reach out with any safety-related questions through a new Direct Messaging feature.
Earlier this month, Yelp announced that restaurants and other businesses can update their profiles to include "Proof of vaccine required" or "All staff fully vaccinated" attributes which will be displayed on their profile pages. Yelp users can also filter their results to display, for example, only the restaurants that require vaccination documentation. And because we can't have nice things, Yelp said that it will be "proactively monitoring" the profiles for any business that includes these two attributes, to protect them from angry users who may retaliate by leaving a negative review.
"Yelp's Content Guidelines require that all reviews be based on a first-hand consumer experience. However, in recent weeks, we've seen a rise in reviews focused on people's stance on COVID vaccinations rather than their actual experience with the business," the company wrote. "Mitigating against these "review bombing" events has become a significant issue for online review platforms, which is why Yelp has heavily invested to address this phenomenon for years through our Consumer Alerts program."