Airbnb will stop offering refunds when a host or guest contracts COVID-19

An updated extenuating circumstances policy will apply to bookings made on or after May 31st.

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Airbnb bookings made on or after May 31st will no longer be eligible for refunds for COVID-19-related issues. The upcoming change to the extenuating circumstances policy will apply to cases where a host or guest contracts COVID-19.

The company says the host's standard cancellation policy will apply instead. It says nearly two-thirds of active offer policies that allow guests to cancel up to five days (under the moderate policy) or up to 24 hours before check in (as per the flexible policy).

Reservations made before the end of next month may still be eligible for a COVID-19-linked refund if they meet the terms of Airbnb's policy. There are exceptions for domestic reservations in South Korea and mainland China. Airbnb said refunds will still be available there for some COVID-19-related circumstances for the foreseeable future.

"Some in the travel industry stopped this type of policy months ago, while others didn’t provide one at all," Airbnb wrote in a blog post. "After consultation with our medical advisors, as well as our community, we feel the time is now right to take the same step."

For what it's worth, Airbnb will soon start offering travel insurance. The product will be available in the coming months. Until then, the company says, those concerned that COVID-19 may disrupt their travel plans can buy insurance elsewhere.

The onset of the pandemic devastated the travel industry and Airbnb wasn't immune from the impact. The company laid off 25 percent of its workforce, or around 1,900 jobs, in May 2020. It seems Airbnb is hoping to get back to business as usual. It noted that "many countries have now implemented living with COVID-19 plans."

Still, the pandemic is not over. Around a third of the global population has yet to receive at least one vaccine dose. Data shows that, on average, 629,798 cases have been recorded worldwide in each of the last 14 days.