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Airbnb, an online home rental company, has suspended all private bookings for UK properties.
This move comes after the company received criticism for allowing its hosts to advertise accommodations that may be used for self-isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic. The company said that their private booking option will be disabled as long as the government keeps the country in lockdown.
As part of the government’s restrictions, hotels and other lodging providers like Airbnb must remain closed for travelers. However, they are permitted to provide temporary shelters for key workers such as medical personnel. Based on a survey, nearly 30% of hotels in the United Kingdom have remained operational to offer rooms and support for the National Health Services (NHS) and other health workers.
Patrick Robinson, Airbnb’s director of public policy, said that hosts play an important role in providing shelter for essential workers. According to Robinson, limiting Airbnb bookings to key personnel will help hosts to not only support those in the frontlines but also to comply with the government’s directives.
Currently, Airbnb allows guests to get their money back for canceled bookings. The refund policy covers reservations made on or before March 14, with booking dates between March 14 and May 31. This refund also includes reservations booked after March 14 if the guest or host is diagnosed with coronavirus.
Refunds can come in the form of future booking credits or cash. The latter requires documentation proving one’s inability to travel because of the coronavirus, such as a doctor’s letter or a link to an official website showing a travel ban statement.