Airbnb must ‘go further’ with bookings ban – MP

Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O'Hara

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Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara has welcomed the decision by Airbnb to halt the booking of holiday rentals.

The online accommodation giant has suspended bookings until April 18 at least with properties only available to key workers.

It had faced a storm of criticism for not acting sooner to prevent people reserving properties when only ‘essential travel’ is allowed – particularly with the Easter weekend coming up.

The local MP has also called on the company to cancel bookings taken prior to the lockdown ‘as a matter of urgency’.

He along with SNP colleagues headed by the party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP had called on Airbnb to act.

There have been concerns about people flocking to beauty spots – risking the spread of the virus and causing concern in local communities, he said.

Mr O’Hara said: ‘I am delighted to have secured a ban on holiday rentals from Airbnb, which is welcome news for people across Argyll and Bute and all across Scotland.

‘An outright ban on holiday bookings should have been the case from the very outset of the lockdown and I sincerely hope that Airbnb has learned lessons from their awful handling of this.’

He added: ‘In light of their decision, it’s now imperative that bookings taken before the ban are cancelled as a matter of urgency to protect our rural communities from the risk of the spread of coronavirus.

‘People should be following the clear public health advice to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel. This includes those who are thinking of having day trips over the Easter weekend as well.

‘Our local communities are deeply worried about an influx of visitors and I have been in touch with the local police about this as well. The message is clear; stay at home, stay safe.’

The company has said it is important that accommodation is available to key workers.