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‘The least we can do’ - Airbnb hosts offer free accommodation to NHS workers

PUBLISHED: 14:34 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:00 30 March 2020

Louise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise Coster

Louise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise Coster

Louise Coster

Airbnb hosts are offering free accommodation to NHS workers and healthcare professionals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Louise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise CosterLouise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise Coster

Thousands of homeowners who use the holiday letting website have already agreed to welcome doctors, nurses and other medical professionals into their properties.

Those working on the frontline amid the COVID-19 outbreak can contact Airbnb regarding their circumstances and receive help from staff to identify the appropriate accommodation.

Louise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise CosterLouise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise Coster

Hosts are being given the option to opt in to the scheme, with Airbnb waiving fees for those who are unable to offer their properties for free.

Louise Coster, who owns a holiday cottage in Hingham, is among those in Norfolk taking part in the programme - keen to help as frontline medical staff battle to stem the virus’ spread.

Louise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise CosterLouise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise Coster

“We had lots of bookings and this was going to be our busiest year yet,” said Mrs Coster, who has owned the cottage for 23 years. “One by one people were cancelling and, in the end, I had to cancel the rest myself.

“We’ve now got a holiday cottage that’s standing empty. This is a really good programme so taking part is the least we can do.

Louise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise CosterLouise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise Coster

“If there are NHS staff who, for whatever reason, need somewhere to stay - perhaps they live with someone who is vulnerable - then providing accommodation for them is a no-brainer.”

Having teamed up with the NHS, Airbnb has expanded its global initiative to house as many as 100,000 healthcare professionals during the ongoing pandemic.

Louise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise CosterLouise Coster, from Hingham, is among the Airbnb hosts offering free accommodation to NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Louise Coster

By Sunday, more than 1,500 places to stay were already on offer across the UK.

Patrick Robinson, director of public policy at Airbnb, said: “The entire country is behind our heroic NHS and medical staff as they battle the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have made it our priority to stand with the Airbnb community to do what we can to help.

“By working together, we can ensure that frontline workers can find a free and convenient place to stay as they continue their critical work.”

Elsewhere in Norfolk, The Crown Inn, Gayton, is offering free rooms to NHS staff drafted in to work at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn due to COVID-19.

In Norwich, businessman Marcus Pearcey has offered free rooms to NHS workers at his Oaklands Hotel.

For the latest news, visit the Norfolk Coronavirus Updates Facebook page.

Click here to find out more about the EDP’s Here to Help campaign.

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