Airbnb Adds Restrictions to New Year’s Eve Bookings to Deter Partying in a Pandemic

Airbnb Adds Restrictions to New Year’s Eve Bookings to Deter Partying in a Pandemic
Photo: Lionel Bonaventure, Getty Images

I’m sure we’re all itching to welcome in the new year after the ungodly slog of 2020 — how is it possible that March feels like just yesterday and 17 lifetimes ago at the same time? — but we still need to celebrate responsibly. The number of daily new covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths just hit an all-time high this week in the U.S. Spikes elsewhere have led several countries to reimpose lockdown restrictions. And large, drunken gatherings really aren’t going to help curb the virus’s spread.

Airbnb agrees, which is why the company has announced new restrictions on New Year’s Eve reservations to deter people from partying in the middle of a pandemic.

Effective immediately, guests without a positive review history will face a two-night minimum stay on New Year’s Eve for entire home listings in select countries, per a company blog post on Thursday. These countries include the U.S., UK, Canada, Mexico, Australia, France, and Spain. If you already had your one-night stay booked for that evening, these restrictions don’t apply, as Airbnb explains that their “data has historically shown that one-night New Year’s Eve bookings made prior to now very rarely lead to unauthorised parties.” Guests with positive review histories are exempt from the evening’s ban on one-night reservations as well.

The home-sharing network is also requiring all guests worldwide that have bookings on New Year’s Eve to agree that they won’t throw an unauthorised shindig and could incur legal action from the company if they break the rules. Since August, Airbnb has enforced a party ban on all listings worldwide amid other health precautions.

“Our hosts are our partners in this mission — and we have carefully developed this New Year’s Eve initiative informed by their feedback along with a review of our data, systems and tools,” the company said Thursday. “We believe this plan will help prevent large gatherings while supporting the type of safe, responsible travel that benefits guests, hosts and the neighbourhoods they call home.”

It sucks, I won’t argue with that. But even in this impossible present that we’re all doing our best to muddle through, there’s still a clear right answer as to how to move forward.