The program follows a similar initiative launched in Italy and France.

By Alison Fox
Updated April 06, 2020
An Airbnb in Rome.
Courtesy of Airbnb

Airbnb wants to provide free housing for 100,000 first responders and healthcare workers around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic. The initiative comes after a similar program was launched in Italy and then in France.

“Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help,” Airbnb’s Co-founder Joe Gebbia said in a statement. “We’ve heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders. We are connecting our nonprofit partners, government agencies and others with our incredible host community to work together in these extraordinary times.”

The initiative, which first launched on March 18 in Italy through a pilot program, "Airbnb For Doctors and Nurses," then expanded to France on March 24 through Airbnb's Open Homes program, which provides free housing in disaster-ridden areas. So far, nearly 6,000 hosts in those two countries have volunteered their homes. Those programs are expected to last for two months.

On Thursday, the company expanded the initiative, which operates through the Open Homes program, to the whole world.

“Unprecedented times call for an unprecedented response and as the world unites to fight the coronavirus outbreak, we have made it our priority as a community to provide what support we can," France's Airbnb Director, Emmanuel Marill, said in a statement about the program there. "By standing with our host community to offer free accommodation for caregivers and social workers we hope we can help heroic professionals on the frontlines as they work to protect us all and save lives."

Globally, there were more than 510,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, who is tracking the virus worldwide. Italy has more than 80,000 cases while France has just over 25,000. They are both under strict quarantine which bans all non-essential reasons to leave one's residence and has resulted in the closures of iconic tourist destinations including the Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain in Rome, and the Musée d'Orsay and Eiffel Tower in Paris.

People that volunteer their homes have to meet certain safety requirements, including having enhanced cleaning and ensuring at least 72 hours between each stay, according to the company. Airbnb said it would waive any fees for stays with this initiative. 

Hosts interested in listing their homes can do so here.

In Italy, the homes themselves will be provided by the company’s hosts, while a local host organization, OspitaMI, will oversee the booking process while France will use a local branch of Airbnb's Open Homes program.

Airbnb in France will also pay hosts €50 to cover cleaning costs.

“Our hearts and thoughts are with everyone affected by the coronavirus outbreak and we have made it our priority to work with the Airbnb community to provide what support we can,” Giacomo Trovato, the general manager for Airbnb in Italy, said in a statement, adding: “We want to thank medical professionals everywhere who are fighting the outbreak and join with the Airbnb community to help support them in these difficult times.”

Medical workers in Italy can register for free housing here and medical workers in France can register here.

Additionally, Airbnb is now allowing travelers to cancel their home and experience reservations all around the world without being charged.

This isn’t the first time Airbnb provided free housing for those dealing with a disaster. Last year, the company's Open Homes program helped those who were suffering from wildfires in California, waiving booking fees for any hosts that opened their doors to those in need free of charge.

Click here for the most recent updates on coronavirus from Travel + Leisure.

The information in this article reflects that of the publishing time above. However, as statistics and information regarding coronavirus rapidly change, some figures may be different from when this story was originally posted. While we strive to keep our content as up to date as possible, we also recommend visiting sites like the CDC or websites of local health departments.

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