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Airbnb extends Beijing suspension to May

Its move falls in with tightened local regulations aimed at curbing the virus outbreak. Those affected to be refunded

Hong Kong

AIRBNB has extended a freeze on all Beijing business by two months, heeding tightened local regulations aimed at curbing the coronavirus epidemic.

The company is now suspending check-ins at all its listings in the Chinese capital until April 30, instead of the end of February, the San Francisco-based company said in a messaged statement. The US startup has offered refunds to those affected or who cancel their bookings.

Airbnb counts on China's growing middle class to deliver a large portion of its future growth. The health authorities there are trying to gauge whether the world's largest known quarantine effort has been effective in containing the pneumonia-causing virus in central Hubei province, a landlocked region of 60 million people. But infections are rising elsewhere in the country, and Beijing is one of its most popular tourist destinations.

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

Xiaozhu said this week it will shut down all rentals in Beijing for February and issue full refunds for existing bookings, while also waiving landlord commission fees. Trip.com said "some" apartment bookings in Beijing for the month have been suspended; it has recommended that users turn to hotels instead.

Airbnb said in its statement Wednesday: "In accordance with the 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 April 30, 2020 have been suspended.

"This measure is based on official guidance that applies to all companies in the short-term rental industry operating in Beijing." BLOOMBERG