Tourism not permitted: New rules for Airbnb, short-term rental hosts during pandemic

Short-term accommodation hosts, like those on Airbnb, can only offer their listings to people in need of housing during this pandemic, Ontario’s Solicitor General says.

When the province amended the list of essential businesses allowed to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic on April 3, that stipulation for short-term accommodations was added.

It will likely come as a relief to Innisfil resident Jeff Koza, who contacted the town with concerns about a nearby home that operates as a short-term accommodation on the Airbnb platform.

“They just have a revolving door over there,” Koza said. “Our own government has said provincially and federally, stay at home, don’t travel — these people have total disregard for any of that.”

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The topic was discussed briefly during Innisfil’s virtual council meeting on April 8 and then again on April 9, by the South Simcoe Police Service.

“Use of an Airbnb for COVID-19 getaways and party houses is strictly prohibited and could result in fines up to $100,000,” South Simcoe police noted.

Town bylaw and police both have the power to enforce the rule.

Alex Dagg, director of public policy at Airbnb, said the platform is sending a similar message to hosts.

“Leisure travel should not occur right now and we have encouraged our host and guest community to follow all restrictions,” she wrote.

Guests trying to book on the site will see an alert to check local travel restrictions.

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