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Airbnb’s covid refund policy is ending

As of May 31, guests will have to cover rental costs even if the cancellation was because of the coronavirus

(iStock/Washington Post illustration)
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Airbnb guests who cancel their reservation because of a coronavirus infection will no longer be eligible for a refund. The short-term-rental company announced the move, which goes into effect May 31, in a blog post Friday that explained updates to its “extenuating circumstances” policy.

Under that policy, guests who contracted the virus were allowed to cancel and get a refund, and hosts could cancel reservations without a penalty. After May 31, circumstances related to covid-19 — including a guest or a host getting infected — will no longer be covered.

Airbnb said in the blog post that the time was right to make the change as a result of a “new way of living” since the pandemic began. Hosts’ typical cancellation policies will apply after the policy change.

“As we’ve seen the heroic effort of health authorities and medical advancements around the globe, almost two thirds of the world’s population have received at least one dose of a vaccination against COVID-19,” the company said on its website. “And many countries have now implemented living with COVID-19 plans, as it becomes part of our world.”

We asked: Should I leave a tip at my Airbnb?

Cancellation policies on the platform vary by host. Airbnb said almost two-thirds of active listings offer “moderate” or “flexible” policies — though none of those options provide refunds for last-minute cancellations.

The company said the more-forgiving policies let guests receive a full refund if they cancel at least five days before checking in — and some only require 24 hours of advance notice. Bookings that were made before May 31 could still be eligible for a refund, the blog post said.

Airbnb also made a pitch for its not-yet-launched travel insurance for guests, due “in the coming months.”

“Until this new product is available, guests can consider purchasing travel insurance outside of Airbnb,” the company said.

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