The hospitality and travel industry may be reeling, but Airbnb is still doing what it can to support the global effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus causing a worldwide pandemic. The company announced today that it will provide "free or subsidized housing" for 100,000 people working as frontline healthcare, relief for first response professionals focused on stemming the COVID-19 crisis.
Airbnb's effort will work by allowing Hosts on its platform to opt-in to making their space available, with any fees that Airbnb would normally charge for using its platform waived for those who participate. The program will include new protocols around cleanliness that are designed to keep spaces safe for those workers who use it, and Airbnb will be working with the Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee, the International Medical Corps and other non-profit groups to help allocated space where it's needed most.
Already, Airbnb had been operating smaller scale programs in both Italy and France to address the crises there, with 6,000 hosts across both countries making their spaces available. This extended program was partly the result of many requests from hosts to the platform about how they could volunteer their spaces and help with the effort, and Airbnb will be making it possible for hosts to offer their spaces for free if they want – though even those who still want to participate but keep a stay charge in place won't be charged any fees by Airbnb itself.
The advanced cleaning protocols that Airbnb has put in place are developed to align with guidance from leading national health authorities, including the CDC in the U.S., and Airbnb says they will evolve as updated guidance becomes available. Some of the enhanced rules to help try to ensure safety include guidance that there should be a minimum of 72 hours between stays, as well as maintaining proper social distancing between hosts and any guests.
Airbnb also has a fund established for those who want to provide monetary support, with 100 percent of all proceeds going to nonprofits working on COVID-19 relief. These funds will help further subsidize housing costs for any responders in the case of hosts making housing available at a fee.