Airbnb Cancels Rentals in Washington, D.C. Region for Inauguration Week

 Police and National Guard stand watch over the United States Capitol building which now stands complete with non-scalable fencing and concrete barriers.

Police and National Guard stand watch over the United States Capitol building which now stands complete with non-scalable fencing and concrete barriers. mpi34/MediaPunch /IPX

 

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The company’s decision to cancel and block lodging rentals comes after leaders from the District, Maryland and Virginia urged people to stay away.

Airbnb announced Wednesday it will cancel and block all reservations in the Washington, D.C. region during the week of the presidential inauguration after local lawmakers asked people not to travel to the nation’s capital for the Jan. 20 event.

The company’s decision comes as Washington, D.C. remains on high alert after a violent siege on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Trump who contest his election loss. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a joint statement this week asking Americans not to come to the inauguration due to both security concerns and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  

Airbnb said it will refund anyone whose reservations were canceled and will also compensate hosts for the money they would have collected from the rentals. No new rentals will be allowed on the booking platform in the Washington, D.C. region during inauguration week.

A company spokeswoman declined to specify the exact jurisdictions where reservations were being cancelled and blocked.

The company said it also identified and banned from its platform “numerous individuals” either associated with known hate groups or found to have been involved in the Capitol riot.

Washington, D.C. and state capitals across the country are on heightened alert as the FBI has warned that armed protests are planned to dispute Trump’s loss. Authorities have erected security barricades across Washington, D.C. and authorized upwards of 20,000 National Guard troops for deployment in the city during the inauguration.

Airbnb has previously curtailed rental activity amid the coronavirus pandemic to discourage travel and some towns banned short-term rentals at the outset of the virus outbreak in attempts to slow its spread.  

The company declined to address questions about other circumstances in which it would consider implementing widespread cancellations.

Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.

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