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Think twice before snagging a short-term rental for your graduation house party or Memorial Day bash, warned an Airbnb official, signaling the tech company’s plan to aid authorities if guests violate COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.
“Under typical circumstances, Airbnb empowers our hosts to set House Rules on events and parties that are appropriate for their communities. However, these are very different times, and public health must come first,” said Charlie Urbancic, trust and safety manager for Airbnb, the short-term rental site that popularized the online homestay marketplace concept.
Airbnb previously announced it would not allow for hosts to authorize parties and events in regions where current public health mandates prohibit events and gatherings. While some state restrictions on gatherings have been lifted or are gradually being scaled back, Airbnb plans to adhere to social distancing rules imposed by local governments, the company said.
In Kansas City, where public gatherings may resume starting Wednesday, indoor social events are limited to 10 people or fewer and outdoor social events are capped at 50, provided social distancing precautions are followed — including organizers maintaining a record of attendees to assist with notification efforts should COVID-19 exposure take place.
“We want to be very clear — not only will we ban guests who attempt to throw an unauthorized party in a Kansas City Airbnb listing, we will be cooperating with KCMO Police in any investigations relating to parties and violations of public health mandates, consistent with our Terms of Service,” Urbancic said.
Airbnb has reinforced the policy by temporarily disabling its “event-friendly” search filter, which is typically used so that guests can seek out venues for responsible parties and gatherings, the company said.
“We continue to temporarily remove the ‘parties and events allowed’ rule from the House Rules of any Kansas City listings that formerly authorized parties,” Urbancic added. “And, of course, we maintain our rigorous work to prevent and address unauthorized parties, which have always been forbidden and reflect particularly serious abuses of our rules during this public health crisis.”