Worldwide: With the coronavirus spreading to over 70 countries, Airbnb has introduced specific policies for how and when to cancel bookings.
This is in response to the number of cancellations being made worldwide as a result of disease-related concerns.
Airbnb usually has six individual categories pertaining to the strictness of cancellation, ranging from flexible to super strict. However now, Airbnb has extended its extenuating circumstances policy to coronavirus, covering reservations in areas with government or health regulation problems.
Guests who are also travelling from an affected region can cancel bookings for free. In addition, those who provide medical care for the virus can change any plans without cost, according to a company statement.
This news comes as various governments are expanding their efforts to fight the virus. The United States, United Kingdom and Australia have added travel warnings to anywhere with a major breakout of the virus and are considering adding restrictions.
The company said: “We strongly urge our community to take necessary precautions to protect yourself when traveling or hosting.
“Our focus right now is on how we can best support our stakeholders as they are impacted by this global health challenge, including hosts, guests, employees and the communities in which we operate,” it added.
Experts have told US TV channel CNBC that they expect significant degrees of cancellation with regard to travel going forward. The hospitality industry has started responding, with Airbnb and OYO setting up funds to cover possible losses from partners.
Airline Flybe entered administration on Thursday, citing the virus as a key reason.
Airbnb may be further affected, however. There are rumours that the slowdown of the economy due to the virus may delay its IPO plans, which were announced to be moving forward in 2020.
Airbnb is focusing on ensuring its community is supported by advising hosts and guests to follow advice from the World Health Organisation [WHO], travel authorities and heath organisations going forward.