With healthcare workers tirelessly fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Airbnb has unveiled an ambitious initiative to help with their accommodations. The company is aiming to help house 100,000 relief workers, first responders, and other healthcare professionals, by encouraging hosts to offer their properties for free, and waiving all fees on stays.
The plan builds on projects in both Italy and France that have seen doctors and nurses—who often need to stay near hospitals or self-isolate from their families—connected with a place to stay. In France, some 4,000 hosts have already offered their homes since the Tuesday announcement.
“We’ve heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders,” Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said in a statement announcing the global project. “We are connecting our nonprofit partners, government agencies and others with our incredible host community to work together in these extraordinary times.”
Those nonprofits include: the International Rescue Committee, which is tackling COVID-19 in more than 40 countries; the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, who have millions of volunteers in 192 countries responding to the outbreak; and the International Medical Corps, which provides medical supplies and treatment services. Airbnb has launched a donation tool to support partner organizations.
Airbnb has also published cleaning guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, which include tips on cleaning and disinfecting homes as well as checklists of hygiene amenities to offer guests and items to clean and disinfect. The company also recommends listing entire homes, as opposed to rooms within a home, allowing 72 hours between stays, and practicing physical distancing between hosts and guests. It advises waiting 24 hours after each guest’s stay to begin cleaning.
Earlier this month, the company also launched its More Flexible Reservations program, aimed at helping both home owners and travelers navigate the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic. It includes support for hosts to offer refunds on cancellations that would have incurred charges, enhanced filters for guests to search by cancellation policy, and a 100 percent service fee refund (in the form of travel credit) for all bookings made through June 1, 2020 that need to be canceled. The company has also paused all Airbnb Experiences through April 3 at least.