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Airbnb is cancelling one-night Halloween bookings to prevent house parties

Airbnb already has a ban on house parties, but it is taking things one step further during the pandemic. Picture: Stephen Paul.

Airbnb already has a ban on house parties, but it is taking things one step further during the pandemic. Picture: Stephen Paul.

Published Oct 6, 2020

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By Shannon McMahon

Airbnb took a stance against large gatherings this summer by banning parties at its rental properties globally. Now the company is taking the move one step further in North America by implementing a ban on one-night bookings on Halloween that could foster large gatherings.

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The vacation rentals platform announced on Friday that it will not allow reservations on October 30 or 31 for any of its "entire home" listings in the United States and Canada. Airbnb will cancel any existing one-night reservations that fall into that category, reimbursing both guests and property hosts.

Entire-home listings differ from private-room and shared-room Airbnb listings, which only offer a portion of a house or building that is usually occupied by the host. The move is part of an effort to curb parties during the global coronavirus pandemic, the company said.

"In the midst of a generational crisis, all of us have a role to play in protecting public health and slowing the spread of Covid-19," Airbnb said. "That includes platforms like Airbnb, and we are committed to doing our part, in particular, to try and stop large gatherings."

The change took effect on October 2, four weeks ahead of the holiday weekend - which will see a full moon on Halloween night. Airbnb did not immediately respond to request for comment about how many bookings would be cancelled under the new rule.

Last Halloween, a party at a Bay Area Airbnb rental left five people dead. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in November 2019 that the company would begin to take steps to ban "party houses."

On August 20, the company formally banned parties at its listings globally, implementing an occupancy limit of 16 people that "applies to all future bookings on Airbnb and it will remain in effect indefinitely until further notice."

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The announcement of that policy change stated that 73% of all Airbnb listings already did not allow parties as part of their "House Rules" associated with the booking. "The vast majority of our guests behave in manners that show respect for House Rules and for neighbours," the company said.

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