Both the travel and hospitality industry has come to a screeching halt in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, that has not stopped Airbnb from giving back in this time of crisis.
On Thursday, the online rental service company announced that it will offer free or subsidized housing to 100,000 healthcare workers on the front lines in the battle to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help,” Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said in a statement. “We’ve heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders. We are connecting our nonprofit partners, government agencies and others with our incredible host community to work together in these extraordinary times.”
Through the initiative, healthcare professionals, relief workers, and first responders around the world will be able to lodge at an Airbnb in order to reduce their commute to and from work or if they choose not to return home in order to protect their families from possibly being exposed to the virus.
The San Francisco-based company said it will waive its normal fees for hosts on its platforms who opt into providing their homes as space for coronavirus responders. Participating hosts, however, will not be charged even if they keep a stay charge. All participants must meet the company’s new cleanliness protocols determined by medical experts, which include a 72-hour break minimum between stays, as well as maintaining proper social distancing between hosts and guests.
“Hosts can opt into the program and have the option of opening their homes for free through Airbnb’s Open Homes platform, created in 2012 to meet the needs of people requiring emergency housing,” reads the company website. “If hosts are not able to host for free, Airbnb will still waive all fees on the stay.”
This program was launched after many travelers began changing their plans as the coronavirus morphed into a global outbreak and many countries and municipalities introduced travel bans or quarantines. Airbnb hosts also began expressing interest in volunteering their spaces to help healthcare workers.
To connect homes with personnel, Airbnb is partnering with businesses, government, and emergency management agencies, and nonprofits including the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Rescue Committee, and International Medical Corps.
Both emergency workers who are looking for accommodations and hosts interested in making their properties available should visit this Airbnb portal.