Airbnb Enforces Stricter Policies During Pandemic

SAN DIEGO (CBS) – With coronavirus cases on the rise across the country, Airbnb is taking new steps to prevent large groups from ringing in the New Year in vacation rentals.

Airbnb is applying stricter global policies to stop large gatherings due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. “If you come to Airbnb, don’t have five stars, and are looking to make a one night reservation on New Years Eve, you just won’t be able to do it.” said Chris Lehane of Airbnb.

The platform has updated its policies since the start of the pandemic, including setting an occupancy cap, limiting customers under 25 without a history of positive reviews to book a list, and even hiring lawsuits against those who break the rules. “It is absolutely essential to put public health first,” said Lehane.

From coast to coast, authorities are targeting people who choose to party during the pandemic, by throwing so-called COVID parties. In Los Angeles, hundreds of people packed a vacation rental for an illegal house party.

“It’s frustrating and a little scary,” said Airbnb host Cy Pilkington. He has four vacation rentals listed on Airbnb near San Diego, California. Its properties are reserved for New Years and it makes it clear that parties are not allowed. “I’ve had a few trying to get a few people in, and you know, being there, I catch that.”

Hosts like Pilkington prioritize public health by following Airbnb’s enhanced cleaning protocols. “Each unit between a stay is reviewed and completely misted and sprayed with an antibacterial cleaner to clean up anything that might have been missed by those in charge of the cleaners,” Pilkington said.

The increased efforts are designed to protect guests and prevent vacationers from bringing the virus home.

Airbnb has also set up a 24-hour neighborhood hotline for people to report party complaints on hosting sites.

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