Published on Monday, April 6, 2020

Airbnb 'Covid-19 retreats' threatened with fines

The Government is threatening to fine Airbnb hosts who are using the platform to advertise their properties as 'Covid-19 retreats'.

A BBC investigation found hosts describing their countryside properties as 'perfect for isolating with family', which flies in the face of new coronavirus laws stating that holiday accommodation should be provided only to keyworkers needing to self-isolate.

In response to the BBC News' investigation, tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said: "Our advice is clear. Essential travel does not include holidays, leisure travel and visits to second homes - and people must remain in their primary residence.

"It is incredibly irresponsible, and dangerous for some property owners to be marketing themselves as 'isolation retreats'.

"We are writing to companies today to remind them of their responsibilities at this time."

Individuals and businesses could face fines of up to £960 for breaking these rules, the government added.

Airbnb said: "We want hosts and guests to follow the rules and we have no tolerance for listings that ignore health or travel advisories.

"The government has set out clear guidance on the limited conditions under which necessary travel is permitted and we have taken a number of steps to support these measures.

"Hosts in the UK are also opening their homes to NHS and other healthcare providers as part of a global initiative that has seen more than 100,000 places to stay made available so far."

Airbnb has allowed guests worldwide to cancel reservations up to May 31 with a full refund, and it claims it will pay hosts a total of £200 million to cover the cancellations.

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