As the coronavirus outbreak continues to unfold, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising travelers to rethink vacation plans that may put them at greater risk. And many companies, including major airlines and Royal Caribbean cruises, are responding with relaxed change and cancellation policies. Now, Airbnb has outlined its own policy.
The home rental and experiences marketplace has deemed the outbreak eligible under its "extenuating circumstances" policy, meaning customers impacted by the outbreak can cancel their stay or experience reservations for free. Additionally, the company is asking both hosts and guests to review travel and health advisories, including the latest updates from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Though the policy originally covered severely impacted areas, including the United States, Mainland China, Italy, and South Korea, it has since been extended. Due to the global disruption caused by COVID-19, Airbnb has updated the extenuating circumstances policy to include bookings made on or before March 14, 2020 with a check-in date of April 14, 2020 or earlier in every single country and region around the world. The only exception is domestic travel in mainland China, which will return to its regular mandates beginning April 1.
In an update published March 13, Airbnb confirmed that the Extenuating Circumstances policy also applies to travelers coming from US with reservations in the Schengen Area of Europe -- though they must have been booked on or before March 11 for travel between March 13 to April 13, 2020.
"As governments and organizations work to contain and mitigate the outbreak, travel and other restrictions have been implemented in several places around the world," Airbnb said in a statement. "To help accommodate these disruptions, we have activated our 'extenuating circumstances policy' to offer impacted hosts and guests the option of cancelling eligible reservations without charge."
The company went on to say that its policy will be updated based on news and recommendations from the WHO as well as from governmental and health authorities.