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Airbnb to block or cancel all D.C. bookings ahead of inauguration

Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, is shown on an electronic screen at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York.
Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, is shown on an electronic screen at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York.
(Mark Lenihan / Associated Press)

Airbnb says it will be blocking or canceling all reservations in the Washington, D.C., area during the week of the presidential inauguration.

The decision, announced Wednesday, was in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington. It came two days after the company said it was reviewing reservations in the area ahead of the inauguration and that it would bar any guests associated with hate groups or violent activity.

The San Francisco-based home-sharing company said guests whose reservations were canceled would be refunded in full. It will also reimburse hosts — at Airbnb’s expense — the money they would have earned from those canceled reservations. Airbnb also said reservations at HotelTonight, a service owned by the company that handles last-minute deals at top-rated hotels, will also be canceled.

Airbnb declined to say how many reservations had been canceled.

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“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 it had learned through media or law enforcement sources the names of individuals confirmed to have been responsible for the criminal activity at the U.S. Capitol. And it’s investigated whether the named individuals have an account on Airbnb. Through this work, the company said it had identified numerous individuals associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol, and they have been banned from Airbnb’s platform.

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, Va.

The company also said Monday that it wouldn’t give political donations to the Republicans who voted against certifying the results of the election last week. Airbnb joined Marriott, AT&T, Walmart and others in taking that stand.

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Airbnb’s political action committee donated $866,519 to candidates and political parties in the 2020 election cycle, according to Open Secrets, which monitors campaign donations. Democratic President-elect Joe Biden was the biggest recipient of Airbnb donations.


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