On Wednesday, rental company Airbnb announced that it is canceling all reservations in Washington D.C. next week during the presidential inauguration. The company said all existent reservations had been canceled and new ones will be blocked after the U.S. Capitol riot last Wednesday. In a public statement on its website, Airbnb said that these cancellations come at city officials' request.
"[D.C.] Mayor Bowser, [Maryland] Governor Hogan and [Virginia] Governor Northam have been clear that visitors should not travel to the D.C. Metro area for the Inauguration," the statement read. "Additionally, 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 did not specify which days the cancellations apply to, instead of generalizing about the whole week. The FBI has warned of credible threats to the Capitol building — and ever state capitol in the country — from at least Jan. 16 to Jan. 20.
This policy will also apply to the company HotelTonight, which is owned by Airbnb. In addition, the company said it is taking steps to "ensure hate group members are not part of the Airbnb community," in part by banning "numerous individuals" from the app after learning they "are either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol Building."
This move may actually be beneficial for Airbnb hosts themselves, who were reportedly dismayed by guests' behavior before and after the riot last week. Neighborhood message boards in the city were full of chatter about fights between rioters and locals. Afterward, message boards for renters were full of discussions about keeping renters out in the turbulent times to come. However, Airbnb typically penalizes hosts for canceling a reservation, so this was a bad option for many.
Airbnb is hoping it can help law enforcement identify the participants in last week's riot. The company is reportedly cross-referencing arrest logs with reservations recently, saying: "Members of hate groups are never welcome on Airbnb."
While this may help stem the tide, law enforcement around the country are on high alert for insurrectionist activity next week. Every state Capitol building in the country has been threatened, and calls for another attack on the Capitol building in D.C. itself are proliferating even as social media attempts to crackdown. Americans are advised to avoid government buildings next week and be mindful of local authorities' roadblocks or restrictions.