If you had an Airbnb reservation in Washington DC for the Inauguration, it has just been canceled. Airbnb guests will be refunded in full for down payments and Airbnb hosts will be reimbursed for their losses.
“Today, in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, DC, we are announcing that Airbnb will cancel reservations in the Washington, DC metro area during the Inauguration week,” according to a statement released by Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit. “Additionally, we will prevent any new reservations in the Washington, DC area from being booked during that time by blocking such reservations.” Reservations made on Airbnb’s sister site, HotelTonight, are also being canceled.
Airbnb says it made the decision based on “inputs from our local host community” as well as government and law enforcement entities. “In particular, (Washington DC) Mayor Bowser, (Maryland) Governor Hogan and (Virginia) Governor Northam have been clear that visitors should not travel to the DC Metro area for the Inauguration,” per the statement. “Additionally, we are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration.”
Federal and local law enforcement is ramping up alerts to would-be travelers to stay out of Washington, DC during the Inauguration period. An FBI memo has warned of armed protests being planned for Washington in the next week. The National Guard has authorized up to 15,000 troops in Washington.
Today is the first day of a prolonged National Special Security Event (NSSE) period in the District that will run through Sunday, January 24. A NSSE designation allows the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to work together to secure areas that may be targets.
In practical terms for visitors, all of this means an extended period of many blocked streets, barricaded areas and an amplified police presence, as well as closures for some top attractions such as the Washington Monument.
Just days ago, Airbnb took steps to remove hate group members from its platform and permanently ban those who engaged in criminal activity during the storming of the Capitol on January 6.
As part of its screening process, Airbnb is cross-referencing the January arrest logs of DC Metro Police and other law enforcement sources as well as media reports that name individuals who participated in storming the Capitol on January 6. “If the individuals have an Airbnb account, we take action, which includes banning them from using Airbnb,” said the company in a previous statement.
“As we’ve learned through media or law enforcement sources the names of individuals confirmed to have been responsible for the violent criminal activity at the United States Capitol on January 6, we’ve investigated whether the named individuals have an account on Airbnb,” said today’s statement. “Through this work, we have identified numerous individuals who are either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol Building, and they have been banned from Airbnb’s platform.”