Airbnb really doesn’t want you throwing huge parties during the pandemic

airbnb house parties coronavirus ban
Photo via Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine/Flickr (Public Domain)

Airbnb announced a global party and event ban on Aug. 20, effectively prohibiting groups of more than 16 people from booking a home. So, if you were planning on throwing massive Airbnb house parties during the coronavirus pandemic, you’re going to be out of luck.

In a news release, the home-sharing platform said that while it has taken steps since last year to crack down on parties, the COVID-19 pandemic led Airbnb to ban large groups completely. 

“When the pandemic was declared, and social distancing became an important element in promoting public health and responsible travel, we updated our policies,” the statement said. 

The new rules prohibit parties on all future bookings and cap occupancy at Airbnb listings at 16 people. Airbnb said it is still ironing out a potential exception process for specialty and traditional hospitality venues, like boutique hotels. 

Aside from impacting people trying to plan parties, the new restrictions will also affect those who planned to host micro-weddings at Airbnbs. As the pandemic led to thousands of wedding cancelations and postponements, smaller “Airbnb weddings” have become the latest trend in the wedding industry. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, according to USA Today, the company removed its “event friendly” search filter and its “parties and events allowed” house rules from listings that had previously allowed them. Guests were also required to follow local COVID-19 public health laws.

But this patchwork ban on events and parties was ineffective at times, and that’s probably what led to a universal prohibition. In July, USA Today reported that police spent five hours trying to break up an Airbnb house party that attracted more than 700 people. On Aug. 16, a handyman was shot when he tried to break up another Airbnb gathering. 

Before the pandemic, Airbnb said it had always prohibited unauthorized parties at Airbnb listings, with 73% percent of listings globally banning parties in their House Rules. Last year, the platform banned “party houses” and restricted guests under the age of 25 who didn’t have a history of positive reviews to book entire home listings locally.

The Associated Press reported that these changes came about after a deadly shooting at a California Airbnb rental on Halloween 2019. 

Part of the new rules also stipulates that Airbnb may legally pursue guests who host events. Previously on Aug. 12, the company announced that it was for the first time pursuing legal measures against a guest for violating its party-house ban after an event in California ended with a shooting that injured three people. 

Sources: Airbnb, USA Today, Associated Press, NPR, JuneBug Weddings

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