Airbnb bans Capitol rioters, plans precautions ahead of DC inauguration

Thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters rioted after traveling to the nation’s Capitol in protest of the presidential election results on Wednesday. Now, as President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration approaches, Airbnb has announced it is taking precautions against “violent hate group members” with a special “Capitol Safety Plan.”

“Airbnb strongly condemns last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol and the efforts to undermine our democratic process,” Airbnb said in a statement Monday, provided by Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty.

As a result, the home rental company announced a set of seven steps it’s taking in the nation’s capitol as the inauguration looms.

The company plans to: 

1. Ban people involved in Capitol riots

As Airbnb learns through the media or law enforcement the names of individuals who have been confirmed to be responsible for “violent criminal activity” at the Capitol on Jan. 6, they will investigate whether the individual has an account. 

To do this, Airbnb cross references the arrest logs from D.C. Metro Police. All offenders are being banned from using the rental platform.

2. Review existing reservations in the D.C. area

Airbnb is reviewing reservations in the Washington, D.C., metro area. 

“If we confirm that any guests are associated with a hate group or otherwise not allowed on our platform for violating certain community policies prohibiting violence or engaging in criminal activity, we will cancel those reservations and ban them from Airbnb,” Airbnb said.

3. Make sure guests verify their identities 

Airbnb requires all U.S. residents to verify their identity before booking a rental. To do so, guests are required to provide a government-issued ID. 

“This helps prevent hate group members from hiding behind fake identities,” Airbnb added.

4. Administer extra security checks on guests’ backgrounds

Airbnb runs background checks of all U.S. users when they sign up. If any additional information surfaces under the new “Capitol Safety Plan,” the company plans to rerun background checks and source other publicly available databases to determine whether they should be banned.

5. Potentially take legal action against any individuals planning violence, violating company policy or if the company learns they are part of hate groups

Airbnb said it will communicate to all guests booked in the Capitol region that if the company learns they or members of their party are part of hate groups, are planning violence or violating Airbnb’s policies or terms of service that the company may bring legal action against them.

6. Remind hosts to reach out to crisis staff if an issue arises

People who are members of hate groups are “never welcome” on Airbnb, the company said in its announcement, noting that it has taken action in the past to remove those individuals.

“We are reminding our host community via email and notifications in our app that if they suspect violations of this policy, they can reach trained crisis staff by calling our Urgent Safety Line,” Airbnb said.

7. Offer support to Airbnb neighbors

Airbnb provides a neighbor support line for neighbors in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia to reach the company directly with issues that is staffed 24/7.

What are hotels doing to prepare for the inauguration?

While Airbnb is taking action before guests even arrive, hotels are taking other steps to ensure safety – some of which are being kept private. 

Some Hilton properties, including Capital Hilton, are in locations near the White House and other sites. Nigel Glennie, spokesperson for Hilton Hotels & Resorts explained these locations can be congregation points for both celebrations and events including protests.

“It won’t surprise you that our D.C. hotels continuously review their safety and security procedures,” Glennie said. That said, procedures are not public.

“We don’t get into the specifics of our security posture publicly, but the preparation is always well informed and mindful of current events,” Glennie said. “The teams at these hotels are very experienced and have a long history of successfully managing through major public events.”

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the vast majority of which are franchised, is putting safety and security of guests and employees first, Rob Myers, spokesperson for Wyndham, told USA TODAY.

“We have provided our hotels with additional security measures to consider, and we are encouraging them to follow guidance from local authorities,” Myers said.

Hyatt is emphasizing COVID-19 mandates, which are enforced on hotel property. Most rioters did not wear masks on Wednesday.

“Guests who are not willing to comply with the policy will be asked to leave the premises or may be given the option of remaining in their guestroom for the duration of their visit,” Stephen Snart, spokesperson for Hyatt, said. 

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