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Airibnb suspends operations in China for February over coronavirus fears

EPA-EFE/GIUSEPPE LAMI
Tourists wear a protective mask, while visiting the monuments in Rome, Italy, 23 January 2020. The outbreak of a new SARS-like coronavirus in China has claimed 25 lives so far.

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Airbnb has suspended check-ins at all of its Beijing listings until March to comply with local regulations intended to curb the coronavirus outbreak that’s spreading across China.
The company said in a statement that it will offer refunds to all those that cancel their bookings:
“In light of the novel coronavirus outbreak and guidance from local authorities for the short-term rental industry during this public health emergency, bookings of all listings in Beijing with check-in from 7 February 2020 to 29 February 2020 have been suspended”, the company said, and added:
“Airbnb appreciates that disease control efforts are causing overall travel disruptions that also affect our community of guests and hosts. We will refund and support guests who had cancelled reservations. And we will continue to work diligently to build programs that support our community of hosts”.
The company’s competitor Xiaozhu said in a statement it will match Airbnb’s actions, shutting down all rentals in Beijing for February. As Airbnb, it will also offer full refunds to its customers. Journey.com, another company in the short-term rental sector, also announced that some of its bookings are being cancelled.
Online travel giant Ctrip announced last week that it would offer 10 billion yuan ($1.42 billion) in small loans to hotel operators and service providers on its platforms in an effort to get through the “special period”, local media reported.
China commands around 60% of short-term rental sector in Asia that reached a size of $7 billion in 2018. Analysts say this could mean a significant setback for a market that has been growing around 50% on a yearly basis between 2013-18.

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