Airbnb has announced it is canceling and blocking all reservations in Washington D.C. during the week of Joe Biden‘s inauguration amid fears guests will travel to the nation’s capital to incite further unrest.
The company on Wednesday responded to calls from city officials who urged Airbnb, VRBO and other rental hosts to take down their listings until Biden is sworn in on January 20, in the wake of last week’s deadly riots.
Days earlier, Airbnb said it had been reviewing its bookings in the area and vowed to ban any guests associated with hate groups or violent activity.
Airbnb on Wednesday announced it is canceling and blocking all reservations in Washington D.C. for the week of Joe Biden’s inauguration
The Secret Service, FBI and the National Guard are among 50 agencies and private companies that have formed a ‘Multi-Agency Command Center (MACC)’ to fortify Washington, D.C. ahead of next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden
‘Today, in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C., we are announcing that Airbnb will cancel reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the Inauguration week,’ the company said in a statement.
‘Additionally, we will prevent any new reservations in the Washington, D.C. area from being booked during that time by blocking such reservations.’
Guests whose reservations are canceled will be refunded in full, the company added. Hosts will also be reimbursed for the money they would have earned, at the company’s expense.
The move comes after Airbnb received ‘inputs’ from its local host community as well as D.C. officials, Metro Police and Members of Congress following the insurrection at the Capitol last Wednesday.
Janeese Lewis George, a Washington city council member, on Monday told rental hosts to ‘avoid renting out rooms on January 17-20.’
‘There’s no way to guarantee that your guests are not coming to incite violence,’ she said in tweet. ‘Please protect your neighbors and the District from more attacks.’
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Governor Hogan and Governor Northam have also asked visitors not to travel to the D.C. Metro area for the inauguration in a bid to prevent more violence.
The FBI has also warned of possible armed protests at capitols in all 50 states in the days leading up to January 20.
Officials in the D.C. and across the country, are bracing for the worst ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, following last week’s deadly riot at the US Capitol
President Trump has been blamed for inciting the deadly riot that left four people dead on January 6 after he urged his supporters to protest against Joe Biden’s election win
Janeese Lewis George, a Washington city council member, on Monday told rental hosts to ‘avoid renting out rooms on January 17-20’
An FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News on Monday raised alarm about a group calling for the ‘storming’ of state, local, and federal government administrative buildings and courthouses should President Donald Trump be removed from office.
Airbnb said it is ‘aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration.
‘We are continuing to ensure hate group members are not part of the Airbnb community.’
It comes after Airbnb on Monday unveiled its seven-step ‘Capitol Safety Plan‘ for the inauguration that would impose additional security checks to its policy and bar individuals involved in last week’s insurrection.
The company warned all guests in the Washington region that it may bring legal action against them if they are members of hate groups or if they plan violent activities.
It also urged hosts to call a hotline if they suspect guests are violating Airbnb’s policy.
Airbnb has had a policy of removing guests who are confirmed to be members of hate groups since 2017, when it blocked guests who were headed to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The company on Monday said it was also banning from its platform anyone who engaged in criminal activity last week.
The Airbnb had initially unveiled its seven-step ‘Capitol Safety Plan’ for the inauguration that would have impose additional security checks to its policy and bar individuals involved in last week’s insurrection
The company said it is cross-referencing arrest records to determine who should be removed. The company wouldn’t say Monday how many people it had removed so far.
The San Francisco-based home sharing company also said Monday that it won’t give political donations to the Republicans who voted against certifying the results of the election last week. Airbnb joined Marriott, AT&T and others in taking that stand.
Airbnb’s political action committee donated $866,519 to candidates and political parties in the 2020 election cycle, according to Open Secrets, which monitors campaign finance donations. Democratic President-elect Joe Biden was the biggest recipient of Airbnb donations.
On Tuesday it was announced the Secret Service, the FBI and the National Guard are among 50 agencies and private companies that have formed a ‘Multi-Agency Command Center’ (MACC) to fortify Washington, D.C. ahead of next week.
A map of Washington, D.C. showing security measures and road closures that are in effect ahead of Inauguration Day next Wednesday
Members of the National Guard are seen armed and protecting the US Capitol Building following the violent siege which took place there last week
The task force will meet for the first time on Wednesday at the Secret Service’s Washington field office where hundreds of people will work in 12-hour shifts to protect the city amid three new violent threats against the Capitol, which was attacked by a mob of MAGA supporters last week.
Private companies that have joined the task force include Amtrak, whose fleet of trains frequently travel through the nation’s capitol.
‘Everyone can just rest assured they are throwing the kitchen sink at this event,’ one Secret Service official involved in the planning told The Washington Post.
Another former Secret Service agent told the publication that the establishment of the MACC ensures proactive security measures are being taken, and help will be on hand in the event a volatile situation erupts.
‘Unlike January 6 [when the Capitol came under siege], nobody has to ask for the National Guard anymore,’ they stated.
‘Nobody has to send out an emergency call for the FBI SWAT team. They’re all there, pre-positioned and ready. Radiation protection. Bomb detectors. Amtrak sweeps. All the security personnel – they’re all now in place.’
Up to 15,000 National Guard members will also be on hand to protect D.C.