WATCH: Airbnb freezes Beijing check-Ins until March to curb Coronavirus
INTERNATIONAL - Airbnb is suspending check-ins at all of its Beijing listings until March to comply with local regulations intended to curb the coronavirus outbreak that’s spreading across China.
The San Francisco-based company said in a statement that it will offer refunds to all those affected or that cancel their bookings. This is in adherence to municipal policy, Airbnb said, though the Beijing government’s press office didn’t answer calls from Bloomberg News seeking comment.
Local rival Xiaozhu will match Airbnb’s actions, shutting down all rentals in Beijing for February and issuing full refunds for existing bookings while also waiving landlord commission fees, it said in a statement. It’s not yet clear whether others in the home-sharing industry, including Trip.com Group Ltd.-backed Tujia, are following suit. In its mobile app, Trip.com said “some” apartment bookings in Beijing have been suspended and recommended users turn to hotels instead.
“In light of the novel coronavirus outbreak and guidance from local authorities for the short-term rental industry during this public health emergency, bookings of all listings in Beijing with check-in from 7 February 2020 to 29 February 2020 have been suspended,” Airbnb said in its statement. The company “appreciates that disease control efforts are causing overall travel disruptions that also affect our community of guests and hosts.”
Health authorities in China and around the world are trying to gauge whether the world’s largest known quarantine effort has been effective in containing the pneumonia-causing virus in central Hubei province, a landlocked region of 60 million people. Infections are rising elsewhere in the country and Beijing is one of its most popular tourist destinations. As of Sunday, Beijing’s health authorities have confirmed 337 cases, including two deaths.