Coronavirus: Airbnb under fire blocks Easter bookings for seclusion retreat


The vacation rental agency Airbnb has announced that it is blocking most bookings after an increase in the number of “isolation retreats”.

Starting at 9 a.m. (Thursday), the platform will temporarily prevent all calendars from receiving new bookings for stays until at least April 18, unless they concern key workers or other types of essential stays .

Refunds are offered to those with existing reservations.

Even though foreclosure measures are in effect across Britain, some Airbnb hosts have been accused of being “incredibly irresponsible” by advertising their properties as a way to escape the coronavirus pandemic.

Some hosts have described their properties as “a perfect place for seclusion and security”, while others have reportedly been thoroughly cleaned with “virus-killing chemicals”.

Arfon MP Hywel Williams said yesterday that the hosts “put lives at risk” and called on the platform to “identify and remove” these owners.

In a statement released this morning, Airbnb reservations will now be “reserved for key workers and other essential stays as directed by the government.”

Airbnb has stated that it will review the temporary schedule freeze on April 18 according to government directives, and regularly after that.

The statement added that thousands of hosts have chosen to provide accommodation for the Frontline Stays program. This includes free stays for NHS staff and paid or subsidized stays for other key workers who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and are exempt from government restrictions.

Patrick Robinson, director of public policy at Airbnb, said: “Hosts across the UK play a vital role in hosting the NHS and other medical personnel as they continue their critical work.

“We have also heard from hosts who want to help others respect the rules and keep people safe in these unprecedented times. Restricting reservations on Airbnb to key employees and other essential stays will allow hosts to continue supporting front-line workers while following government guidelines. “

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Airbnb blocked private room reservations and temporarily disabled the “instant booking” feature for whole house properties last week.

The platform also offered customers refunds through its extenuating circumstances policy to ensure that no customer feels the need to travel by committing to book.

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The MP for Hywel Williams said, “I welcome this decision by AirBnB. This follows a concerted and very effective campaign across Wales.

“It all starts after Easter, which means that some irresponsible people will no doubt try to travel here. I invite them to stay at home.

“I also call on all other suppliers to take the same action as Airbnb. “

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