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AirBnB restricts new bookings after hundreds of properties listed for Easter weekend

PUBLISHED: 09:22 09 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:48 09 April 2020

Holidaymakers have been told to stay away from the region's beaches. Photo: Getty Images

Holidaymakers have been told to stay away from the region's beaches. Photo: Getty Images

MargaretClavell

Lettings site Airbnb has restricted all bookings to just key workers after hundreds of holiday escapes were advertised for the Easter weekend.

We found hundreds of Airbnbs at tourist hotspots still being advertised this week but on Thursday all bookings were suspended apart from for key workers. Pictured is Southwold Pier. Picture: Getty ImagesWe found hundreds of Airbnbs at tourist hotspots still being advertised this week but on Thursday all bookings were suspended apart from for key workers. Pictured is Southwold Pier. Picture: Getty Images

Despite the lockdown, some hosts were marketing their properties as “isolation escapes” for those looking to get out of cities. It had sparked fears that visitors would spread coronavirus to more rural areas.

This newspaper contacted AirBnB on Monday after finding more than 600 properties in Norfolk and Suffolk still being advertised on the site for this weekend.

Some of the adverts we saw stated they were for key workers only, while others said they were not taking bookings.

But there was nothing to stop guests booking properties, if the host was willing.

One Norfolk host told us they were still open and the property was in an isolated location.

Other holiday letting sites banned bookings several weeks ago.

Hosts who had advertised properties as suitable to self-isolate were described as “dangerous and irresponsible” by the government.

Earlier this week, tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said: “People must remain in their primary residence.

“Those not taking these steps put additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk and I call on the tourism industry to support this important work and not to encourage people to book holidays or staycations within the UK during these uncertain times.

“As soon as it is safe to do so we will be encouraging people to book a great British holiday and show our support to the UK’s travel industry, but at the moment people need to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Airbnb announced on Thursday morning that until at least April 18 all bookings were now restricted to key workers and “other essential stays in line with government guidance”.

They said listings that were visible on their platform would not be open.

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.

“Restricting bookings on Airbnb to key workers and other essential stays will allow hosts to continue supporting frontline workers while following government guidance.”


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