The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred Airbnb to come up with new rules and recommendations for its rentals. These include suggested cleaning standards and requiring that rentals stay vacant for 24 hours between customers.
The company said its “Enhanced Cleaning Initiative … is informed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published standards; leading experts such as Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General of the United States,” along with firms in both the hospitality and healthcare hygiene sectors.
Set to launch in May, Airbnb’s new “cleaning protocol” guidelines “will include a learning and certification program to empower our host community,” the company said. “And guests will be able to identify and book accommodations included in this program soon after hosts enroll.”
Airbnb said the protocols will include “specific information on COVID-19 prevention, such as the use of personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves for hosts or their cleaners, as well as disinfectants that are approved by regulatory authorities. A CDC-recommended 24-hour wait period before entering is also required, as a precaution to address the possibility of particles that may remain airborne for a few hours.”
Hotel bookings have cratered. According to the hospitality analytics company STR, U.S. occupancy rates have fallen to 23.4 percent of rooms in use for the week ending April 18.
Airbnb, a privately held company, doesn't make occupancy levels public. The company said it recently received a $1 billion loans from investors due to the travel industry slowdown.
Airbnb said, in a prepared statement that if hosts do not commit to the new cleaning protocol, “they can alternatively opt into a new feature called Booking Buffer, to create a vacancy period between stays. Hosts can commit to keeping their home empty for a set period in between stays, with no activity other than cleaning.”
However, Airbnb said that “listings enrolled in the cleaning protocol will be available for stays immediately after the enhanced cleaning is performed.”