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Airbnb Is Canceling All Reservations In Metro D.C. During Inauguration Week

Airbnb said it is canceling reservations — and blocking new ones — in the D.C. area during the week that President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated.
Martin Bureau
AFP via Getty Images
Airbnb said it is canceling reservations — and blocking new ones — in the D.C. area during the week that President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated.

Updated at 11:28 a.m. ET

Airbnb says it is canceling reservations made in the Washington, D.C., metro area during inauguration week, citing various officials' requests that people not travel to the area during this time.

The service will also block new bookings in the area during that period. Airbnb says it will refund guests whose reservations were canceled and reimburse hosts for the money they would have earned from the canceled reservations.

"[D.C.] Mayor Bowser, [Maryland] Governor Hogan and [Virginia] Governor Northam have been clear that visitors should not travel to the D.C. Metro area for the Inauguration," the company said in a statement on Wednesday. "Additionally, we are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration."

Airbnb did not specify the precise dates the policy applies to, which also affects bookings on HotelTonight, which is owned by Airbnb.

The company said it has taken steps to "ensure hate group members are not part of the Airbnb community" — banning "numerous individuals" from using its platform if Airbnb has learned they "are either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol Building."

The move is likely to simplify matters for Airbnb hosts in the area. Neighborhood message boards in D.C. lit up in recent days with reports of shouting matches between pro-Trump Airbnb guests and D.C. neighbors, and of hosts hearing guests talking afterward about taking part in the riot.

Some neighbors urged D.C. Airbnb hosts to be careful who they rent to, while others cautioned hosts not to run afoul of nondiscrimination policies. Hosts noted that Airbnb typically penalizesthose who cancel bookings.

On Monday, Airbnb said it was cross-referencing the Jan. 6 arrest logs of D.C. Metropolitan Police and reviewing reservations in the D.C. area.

"Members of hate groups are never welcome on Airbnb," the company said, and reminded hosts that if they suspect violations of this policy, they can notify Airbnb's safety line. The company also linked to a neighbor support line where community members can bring issues to Airbnb's attention.

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Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.