Airbnb says it will be blocking and cancelling all reservations in the Washington DC area during the week of the presidential inauguration.
Having announced increased security measures on Monday, on Wednesday the booking company doubled down and blocked out 300+ rooms from being used in the capital.
The latest decision was in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, DC It came two days after it said it was reviewing reservations in the area ahead of the inauguration and said it will bar any guests associated with hate groups or violent activity.
The San Francisco-based home sharing company said that guests whose reservations were cancelled will be refunded in full. It will reimburse hosts — at Airbnb's expense — the money they would have earned from those cancelled reservations. It also said that reservations at HotelTonight, a service owned by Airbnb that handles last-minute deals at top-rated hotels, will also be cancelled.
Airbnb declined to say how many reservations were cancelled. But over Presidents' Day weekend (15 February), the site lists more than 300 rentals in the Washington, DC area.
"We are continuing our work to ensure hate group members are not part of the Airbnb community," the company said in a corporate blog.
Airbnb said that it had learned through media or law enforcement sources the names of individuals confirmed to have been responsible for the criminal activity at the US Capitol. And it's investigated whether the named individuals have an account on Airbnb. Through this work, it said it has identified numerous individuals who are associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol building, and they have been banned from Airbnb's platform.
On Monday the website called out the "Proud Boys" as a "hate group", saying that accounts belonging to affiliated members would be terminated.
Airbnb has had a policy of removing guests who are confirmed to be members of hate groups since 2017, when it blocked guests who were headed to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Co-founder Brian Chesky took to twitter to announce the decision and say no one will be left out of pocket:
"Guests will be issued a full refund and hosts will still be paid in full for these canceled bookings."
- Associated Press with additional staff reporting