Airbnb canceling DC reservations during week of Biden’s inauguration

Inauguration Day

In this photo illustration the logo of online marketplace for arranging or offering lodging, primarily homestays, or tourism experiences Airbnb is displayed on a smartphone on October 07, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo Illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Airbnb is canceling and blocking reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the week of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Airbnb said Wednesday that they’ll refund guests and reimburse hosts – at the company’s expense – the money that they would have earned from the reservations. The vacation rental website is also preventing users from requesting any new reservations in the area during that time.

Airbnb’s announcement follows warnings from federal officials of possible armed unrest in the nation’s capital, and all 50 state capitals, in the days leading up to the formal presidential transition.

“We are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration,” Airbnb said in its statement.

Airbnb said the decision was made in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington for Inauguration Day.

Biden himself joined leaders such as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, in asking Americans to stay home Jan. 20 and watch from afar.

Airbnb also said it’s investigating whether any of the individuals involved in the Capitol riots last week have accounts on its platform.

“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,” the company said. “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.”

Airbnb declined to say how many reservations were canceled. But over Presidents’ Day weekend, the site lists more than 300 rentals in the Washington, D.C. area.

Airbnb has had a policy of removing guests who are confirmed to be members of hate groups since 2017, when it blocked guests who were headed to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The company also said Monday that it won’t give political donations to the Republicans who voted against certifying the results of the election last week. Airbnb joined Marriott, AT&T, Walmart and others in taking that stand.

Airbnb’s political action committee donated $866,519 to candidates and political parties in the 2020 election cycle, according to Open Secrets, which monitors campaign finance donations. Democratic President-elect Joe Biden was the biggest recipient of Airbnb donations.

Meanwhile, Marriott International said Wednesday that its hotels in the Washington, D.C. area will remain open leading up to and through the inauguration.

“We have many official participants of the inauguration staying with us and plan on upholding those reservations,” the company said in a statement to The Associated Press. “We, of course, have the safety of our guests and associates top of mind given the recent events. We are monitoring the situation very closely and have operational and security plans in place.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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