Airbnb is making it harder to book apartments on New Year’s Eve in the United States to limit the risks of illegal parties that could lead to further spread of COVID-19.
As of Thursday, travelers throughout North America who don’t have positive reviews on their Airbnb profile won’t be able to rent a place for a single night on December 31, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement.
People planning to spend the last day of the year in properties let through Airbnb will have to pledge they won’t organize any parties on New Year’s Eve.
They will also have to state that they are aware of the legal charges they might face if they fail to abide by the rule, the company said.
The measures are being introduced after a similar ruling on Halloween night bookings amid the pandemic and a worldwide crackdown on parties hosted by guests in the company’s listings.
Airbnb is making it harder to book apartments on New Year’s Eve in the United States to limit the risks of illegal parties that could lead to further spread of COVID-19, it said Thursday
All bookings made under previous conditions will be maintained, added the U.S. home rental company, that will make its market debut next week.
It said this decision was made as most single-day reservations aimed at organizing large year-end gatherings were usually made in December.
Last-minute bookings by people seeking to rent a place close to their own home and who haven’t received positive reviews will also be restricted, Airbnb said in its Thursday statement.
And the company is establishing a ‘virtual command center’ with trained safety agents on call, as well as providing further guidance to hosts on how they can decrease the likelihood of parties.
The same rules are also being implemented in France, Britain, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Spain.
‘Our hosts are our partners in this mission – and we have carefully developed this New Year’s Eve initiative informed by their feedback along with a review of our data, systems and tools,’ Airbnb stated.
‘We also know that the great majority of guests are respectful of our hosts’ neighbors, and that they treat their hosts’ homes as if they were their own homes.
‘We believe this plan will help prevent large gatherings while supporting the type of safe, responsible travel that benefits guests, hosts and the neighborhoods they call home.’
The new temporary rules come on top of previous measures put in place in August, under which Airbnb forbade all parties and gatherings of more than 16 people in any of its listings worldwide to limit the spreading of the novel coronavirus.
Airbnb said the coronavirus-related closure of bars and nightclubs has led to an increase in big house parties, sometimes at its rentals.
Airbnb has always prohibited unauthorized parties, and the company said nearly 75 per cent of its listings explicitly ban parties. But the August ban now covers all parties and limit bookings to no more than 16 people.
It came after a house party in Middletown, New Jersey, in July was believed to have sparked 65 cases of coronavirus, with 52 of those infected between 15 and 19 years old.
After a spate of parties in the state, Airbnb removed 37 listings.
In July, a party took place in Jackson Township at a mansion that had been rented out for $795-a-night on Airbnb. Photos on Instagram that claimed to be taken inside the party showed people dancing and drinking within close proximity to each other
Footage on Instagram that appeared to be taken inside the party showed people dancing
Cops in New Jersey were also called to break up this massive pool party in July
Earlier in July, the company also banned U.S. guests under the age of 25 with fewer than three positive Airbnb reviews from booking entire homes close to where they live, in further attempts to crack down on parties.
Those guests will still be allowed to book entire homes elsewhere, and they will be allowed to book hotel rooms or private rooms within homes, the company said.
Similar to the New Year’s Eve restrictions, the firm made it impossible to rent a full home for a single night on Halloween in the U.S. and Canada to prevent illegal parties – a move they said was successful.
According to ABC 15, the limitation resulted in the suspension or removal of 50 Arizona listings after the properties received complaints or violated policies regarding events and parties.
Airbnb said Thursday that following the Halloween ban, they spoke to US and Canadian hosts who believed it should not have been an outright rule for all travelers.
As such the company changed the ruling for New Year’s Eve to effect only those with no positive reviews.
Contra Costa County Sheriff deputies investigate a multiple shooting on Halloween in 2019 at an Airbnb rental home in Orinda, California, that sparked the firm’s party crackdown
Airbnb began stepping up efforts to ban ‘party houses’ in November 2019 after five people were shot and killed during an unauthorized party at an Airbnb rental in Orinda, California.
At the time, Airbnb set up a rapid response team to deal with complaints from neighbors and started screening ‘high risk’ bookings, such as reservations at a large home for one night.
Airbnb also warned guests and hosts that it could take legal action against violators.
In August, for the first time, it started legal proceedings against the guest who held an unauthorized house party in California.
The October 31, 2019, shooting sent some 100 terrified partygoers running for their lives. Five were arrested in connection to the shooting.
Yet despite the crackdown, some parties are still managing to slip through the cracks.
Just this week, cops in Long Island broke up a huge party of 400 people in a castle rented on Airbnb.
Cops in Long Island broke up a huge party of 400 people in a castle rented on Airbnb Monday
Neighbors, as well as the homeowner who was not at the 10-acre property at the time, called Suffolk County Police to report the mass of cars and people heading to the luxury Brookhaven home in the early hours of Monday morning.
Officers arrived at the castle at 12.25am to break up the illegal gathering, with Covid regulations currently limiting groups to a maximum of 10 people.
The New Year’s Eve restrictions were announced as the US recorded its most deadly day of the pandemic on Wednesday with 2,800 deaths.
The number of hospitalizations has reached a record 100,226 and new daily cases have surpassed 200,000.
There have been more than 14million cases and 274,600 deaths in total.
Airbnb’s new restrictions come a few days before its initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq stock market, which it hopes will help it gain a valuation of up to $35 billion.
The twelve-year-old company has been trying to shed its couch-surfing image and appeal to more types of travelers ahead of its debut.