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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Airbnb to Cancel Washington DC Bookings as Police Warn of Militia Threat

Home-sharing giant Airbnb is canceling hotel reservations in the Washington DC Metro area for the week of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after law enforcement warned of the threat from armed militia, it said on Wednesday.

The decision was made voluntarily after consulting local and federal officials, a company spokesperson said.

“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.

Airbnnb, which raised nearly $3.5 billion in December in a blockbuster listing, has already banned from its platform some individuals who were found to have ties with hate groups or were involved in last week’s deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol.

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The company will issue a full refund to guests and hosts will be paid in full for the canceled bookings. Its spokesperson declined to comment on the financial impact of its decision to cancel bookings.

The home-sharing company and HotelTonight, which it bought in 2019, are both blocking and canceling reservations. Airbnb shares were trading up nearly 7% at 12.34 p.m. ET.

SECURITY THREAT

Security around the DC Metro area has been ramped up, with the National Guard securing the capital. A number of local, state and federal officials have asked people not to travel to Washington DC during the Inauguration week.

Some of the 10,000 National Guard troops streaming into Washington DC to help secure the area ahead of the inauguration will be armed, officials have told Reuters.

Facebook Inc said it has seen an increase in signals indicating potential future acts of violence associated with efforts to contest the result of the presidential election since the Capitol siege last week.

In the coming weeks, anti-Trump activists are planning to protest hotels where Trump supporters stayed during post-election protests.

“We call on every hotel in DC to close completely between Jan. 15 and 21. In the leadup to Jan. 6, we asked hotels to disavow white supremacists and refuse them service,” Black Lives Matter DC and ShutDownDC said in a statement.

“The vast majority refused – and failed to prevent white supremacists from staying in our city.”

Major hotel chains Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc and Marriott International said it planned to uphold existing reservations.

“Our hotels in the D.C. area will remain open leading up to and through the inauguration. 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,” Marriott said.

Hyatt did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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