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Airbnb freezes Beijing check-ins until March to curb spread of virus

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The San Francisco-based company said it will offer refunds to all those affected or who have cancelled their bookings.

Beijing

AIRBNB is suspending check-ins at all of its Beijing listings until March to comply with local regulations intended to curb the novel coronavirus outbreak that is spreading across China.

The San Francisco-based company said in a statement that it will offer refunds to all those affected or who have cancelled their bookings.

Airbnb, speaking though the Beijing government's press office, said this is in adherence to municipal policy. It did not answer calls from Bloomberg News seeking comment.

Local rival Xiaozhu will match Airbnb's actions, shutting down all rentals in Beijing for February and issuing full refunds for existing bookings, while also waiving landlord commission fees, it said in a statement.

It is not yet clear whether others in the home-sharing industry, including Trip.com Group-backed Tujia, are following suit.

In its mobile app, Trip.com said "some" apartment bookings in Beijing have been suspended and recommended users turn to hotels instead.

Said Airbnb in its statement: "In light of the novel coronavirus outbreak and guidance from local authorities for the short-term rental industry during this public health emergency, bookings of all listings in Beijing with check-in from Feb 7, 2020 to Feb 29, 2020 have been suspended."

The company "appreciates that disease control efforts are causing overall travel disruptions that also affect our community of guests and hosts."

Health authorities in and outside China are trying to gauge whether the world's largest known quarantine effort has been effective in containing the pneumonia-causing virus in the landlocked Hubei province, which has 60 million people.

Infections are rising elsewhere in the country and Beijing is one of its most popular tourist destinations.

As of Sunday, Beijing's health authorities had confirmed 337 cases, including two deaths. BLOOMBERG