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Worldwide Airbnb initiative to help essential workers

Airbnb is stepping into a void that could help essential workers and their families from trasmitting COVID-19.

The new global initiative will provide free or subsidised housing for healthcare professionals, relief workers and first responders, typically closer to where they are working.

Airbnb is working to help connect those responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with safe and convenient places to stay while they carry out their critical work. The company’s goal is to help house 100,000 healthcare professionals, relief workers and first responders around the world.

Airbnb will waive all fees for stays arranged through this initiative.

“Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help,” says Airbnb’s co-founder Joe Gebbia. “We’ve heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders.

"We are connecting our nonprofit partners, government agencies and others with our incredible host community to work together in these extraordinary times.”

The initiative builds on a pilot program launched earlier this week in France where Airbnb and the French government announced that doctors, nurses, caregivers and other medical support staff who are responding to the outbreak in the country can access free accommodation through Airbnb. The Airbnb community has already responded to the call, with nearly 4000 hosts in the country offering their homes after the announcement on Tuesday.

To enable healthcare providers and other COVID-19 responders to find housing, Airbnb will be working with businesses, nonprofits and government and emergency management agencies supporting these responders. Hosts can opt into the program and have the option of opening their homes for free through Airbnb’s Open Homes platform, created in 2012 to meet the needs of people requiring emergency housing. If hosts are not able to host for free, Airbnb will still waive all fees on the stay.

Accommodation for relief and medical workers, who have higher exposition to COVID-19, requires robust preventive practices and stringent safety standards. Airbnb takes the health and safety of its community very seriously and has worked with leading experts and officials to develop a protocol for hosts who support this collective health effort.

The protocol will be updated to incorporate new requirements from local and national authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are working with experts to continuously enhance our approach, including Dr. Larry Brilliant, a renowned epidemiologist and Chair of Ending Pandemics. Dr. Brilliant will also involve several nationally recognised experts from his consultancy, Pandefense, in this effort.

“While science is still developing around COVID-19, and there is a lot we do not know, we have provided guidance to support the Airbnb community participating in immediate efforts with governments and institutions," says Dr. Larry Brilliant.

"As medical and relief workers require accommodation for response and preparedness, the Airbnb community is in a unique position to help. I applaud Airbnb for working under conditions of such uncertainty to provide housing for first responders and medical staff working in this pandemic. We are working to provide clear communication and resources, based on rapidly evolving knowledge about this novel virus and best practices on sanitation, in order to help keep communities as safe as possible."

Examples of safe hosting recommendations include listing entire homes and agreeing to a number of safety requirements including enhanced cleaning, social distancing with their guests, and allowing 72 hours between stays. Airbnb’s partners or affiliates will ensure that stays are COVID-19 related and responders are familiar with safety protocols. To learn more and to open their homes, hosts can go to: www.airbnb.com/covid19relief

Through this initiative, Airbnb will be working with leading organisations who have already deployed thousands of relief workers to help fight the pandemic. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are coordinating their network of millions of volunteers in 192 countries to respond to the outbreak. The International Rescue Committee has launched coronavirus preparedness and response in more than 40 countries and International Medical Corps is working with its approximately 7,000 staff globally to provide medical supplies, training and triage and treatment services during the outbreak.

“Airbnb and Open Homes maintain a unique capability to address housing needs at the most critical of times,” says Nancy Aossey, president and CEO of International Medical Corps.

“This commitment will help International Medical Corps house our frontline health workers and first responders as our teams address the global COVID-19 pandemic, reaching hot-spot and low-resource areas in the US and around the world. Thanks to this timely and generous support, we can direct more funds to provide medical care, medical supplies, mental health services, and training and education on infection prevention and control while helping ensure our staff members have a place to go home to.”

Airbnb has also launched a donation tool to help power even more stays for relief workers while they do their critical work. One-hundred percent of proceeds will go directly to nonprofits helping with COVID-19 relief efforts. To donate, go to: www.airbnb.com/openhomes/covid19relief?donate

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