Airbnb Takes New Steps To Enforce Tougher Global Policies To Stop Large Gatherings

Wednesday, December 30th 2020, 12:56 pm
By: CBS News

With a surge in coronavirus cases around the country, Airbnb is taking new steps to keep large groups from ringing in the new year in vacation rentals.

Airbnb is enforcing tougher global policies to stop large gatherings due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

"If you're coming to Airbnb, you don't have a five-star rating and you're seeking to do a one-night reservation on New Year's Eve, you're just not going to be able to do that," Chris Lehane of Airbnb said.

The platform has been updating its policies since the start of the pandemic, including putting a cap on occupancy, restricting guests under 25 without a history of positive reviews to book a listing, and even taking legal action against those who violate the rules.

"It is just absolutely critical to prioritize public health," said Lehane.

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

"It is frustrating and a little bit scary," said Airbnb host Cy Pilkington.

He has four vacation rentals listed on Airbnb near San Diego, California. His properties are booked for New Year's, and he makes it clear parties are not allowed.

"I've had a few that try and sneak a few people in, and you know, being on site, I catch that," Pilkington said.

Hosts like Pilkington are prioritizing public health by abiding by Airbnb's enhanced cleaning protocols.

"Every unit between a stay is gone through and completely misted and sprayed with anti-bacterial cleaner to clean anything that might have been missed by the cleaning people," he said.

The stepped-up efforts are designed to protect guests and keep vacationers from taking the virus home with them.

Airbnb also set up a 24-hour neighborhood support line for people to report complaints of parties at host sites.