Business Maverick

Airbnb Cancels Washington, D.C. Bookings Inauguration Week, Citing Risks

By Bloomberg 14 January 2021
Caption
AirBnb Inc. signage is displayed on an smartphone in an arranged photograph taken in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Friday, April 17, 2020. Home-sharing leader Airbnb Inc. lined up $1 billion in debt boosting a financial cushion it can use to grow and pay bills as the global coronavirus pandemic crushes demand for travel and diminishes the prospect of an initial public offering. Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

Airbnb Inc., the biggest home-rental service in the U.S., said it will cancel all reservations in the Washington area next week during the inauguration of Joe Biden and will prohibit any new rentals from being made, moves designed to minimize further attacks at the capital.

Airbnb canceled 5,500 reservations in the Washington area, Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s senior vice president for global policy and communications, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television on Wednesday.

Airbnb said it learned names of people confirmed to have participated in criminal activity at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and investigated whether they have accounts on Airbnb. It identified several people who are either associated with known hate groups or were otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol, and they have been banned from the site.

Officials in Washington are preparing for inauguration week with heightened security, including thousands of troops from the National Guard, among other measures. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser encouraged people this week to watch the inauguration from home instead of visiting.

Airbnb said guests whose inauguration week bookings have been canceled will receive full refunds and that it will pay hosts for the money they would have earned from those reservations.

Black Lives Matter DC is planning an event Thursday to urge hotels to close for about a week starting Friday. The group said doing so would help deter violence and shield hotel workers from potential exposure to Covid-19 because many of the rioters involved in the Capitol mob did not wear masks.

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