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Airbnb bans bookings after Cornish holiday lets advertised during lockdown

St Ives in Cornwall is a popular destination for holiday-makers. Credit: PA

Airbnb has bowed to public pressure and banned bookings for the current coronavirus lockdown period.

The well-known booking firm introduced the ban after complaints were made by Government officials and communities across the West Country.

The company has also offered refunds on bookings for holidays which have had to be cancelled in light of lockdown restrictions.

The move comes after Cornwall Council confirmed it had received nearly 200 complaints from members of the public about places that were still trading, including holiday lets advertised by Airbnb.

We’ve had 183 reports from members of the public about places that shouldn’t be trading.

We try to phone or email [and] if we have to we go round and see them, mostly they’ve been great and very compliant.

One person actually called us up and said ‘my guests won’t leave, I want them to leave and they won’t leave’.

We went round and spoke to them and convinced them that they’d be better off at home.

– Cllr Rob Nolan, Cornwall Council
Airbnb has now banned UK bookings during the current lockdown. Credit: PA

The Government is continuing to urge people to "stay home, save lives" in a bid to delay the spread of coronavirus, thus easing pressure on the health service.

Police and local councils in the region have also urged holidaymakers and second home owners to avoid travelling to the West Country over the bank holiday weekend.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Airbnb said the “vast majority” of hosts were already complying with the Government’s rules.

We have heard from policymakers, and local residents who are worried about incoming visitors and the impact on the health of your communities.

The vast majority of hosts and guests on Airbnb are adhering to the Government’s rules to contain the spread of COVID-19.

But in these difficult times, we recognise our responsibility is to do all we can to prioritise the safety of all. This principle guides these further steps we are taking today.

From today, it will not be possible to book a stay in the United Kingdom that starts on or before April 18, 2020, in line with government regulations.

We will continue to review these measures after that date.

– Airbnb spokesperson

The company has also said that anyone who made a booking before 14 March for a stay between 14 March and 31 May will be able to claim a full refund through the firm’s cancellation policy.

A new scheme set up by the company - Frontline Stays - providing free accommodation for NHS staff and medical workers will not be affected. The company said that 12,000 hosts in the UK had offered their properties for use in the programme.

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the West Country, including case numbers, event cancellations and venue closures, click here.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know