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Airbnb UK bookings now restricted to essential travel for key workers

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Airbnb has temporarily restricted all UK bookings to key workers only, following a BBC probe that found that hosts on the site were promoting ‘Covid retreats’.

The travel site has temporarily blocked all calendars from receiving new bookings for stays up to at least April 18 2020, except for essential travel and accommodation for NHS workers and others on the frontline in the fightback against the coronavirus outbreak.

Listings that are visible on the platform will not be open for stays during that time.

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Bookings for NHS staff and medical professionals are able to be made as part of the Frontline Stays programme.

Last week following the BBC investigation, Airbnb switched off its ‘instant book’ function for whole properties, as well as blocked all private room stays.

Patrick Robinson, director of Public Policy at Airbnb, said: “Hosts across the UK are playing a vital role in housing NHS and other medical staff as they continue their critical work. We’ve also heard from hosts who want to help others follow the rules and keep people safe during these unprecedented times. Restricting bookings on Airbnb to key workers and other essential stays will allow hosts to continue supporting frontline workers while following government guidance.”

Currently the Airbnb cancellation policy allows guests who have booked stays between 14 March and 31 May to apply for a full-refund cancellation.

In response, Airbnb agreed to pay £200m to hosts to help cover the cost of these cancellations.

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Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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