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Airbnb halts bookings in UK properties due to Covid-19

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

Airbnb has blocked UK properties from accepting new bookings for the coming days unless they are for key workers.

The move comes after the accommodation site was criticised for advertising properties as suitable for guests to use to self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm said it has stopped properties from receiving new bookings up to at least April 18.

An exception will be made for its initiative which offers free stays for NHS staff and paid or subsidised stays for other key workers exempt from the Government’s travel restrictions.

Last week, Airbnb blocked private room bookings and temporarily removed the ability for whole properties to be instantly booked.

Airbnb director of public policy Patrick Robinson said: “Hosts across the UK are playing a vital role in housing NHS and other medical staff as they continue their critical work.

“We’ve also heard from hosts who want to help others follow the rules and keep people safe during these unprecedented times.

“Restricting bookings on Airbnb to key workers and other essential stays will allow hosts to continue supporting front-line workers while following Government guidance.”

Earlier this week it emerged that the site was listing properties advertised as places to self-isolate.

They included a house in Edinburgh described as being “the perfect place to isolate yourself from the coronavirus”.

In response, UK tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said it was “incredibly irresponsible and dangerous for some property owners to be marketing themselves as ‘isolation retreats'”.