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Airbnb to pay hosts $250 million to cover coronavirus cancellations

The company has also created a $10 million relief fund for its "superhosts."

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Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Airbnb said it will pay hosts for their reservation losses due to the coronavirus.

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Airbnb said Monday it will pay hosts $250 million to help offset losses due to guest bookings canceled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The payments apply to canceled reservations made before March 14 with check-in dates between March 14 and May 31.

The company had previously said that guests would receive a full refund for reservations canceled by March 14 for check-in between March 14 and April 14.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky made the announcement in a letter to hosts that apologized for making the decision to offer refunds without consulting hosts.

"If we allowed guests to cancel and receive a refund, we knew it could have significant consequences on your livelihood," Chesky wrote. "But, we couldn't have guests and hosts feel pressured to put themselves into unsafe situations and create an additional public health hazard.

"While I believe we did the right thing in prioritizing health and safety, I'm sorry that we communicated this decision to guests without consulting you -- like partners should," he wrote.

The spread of the coronavirus has wreaked havoc worldwide, especially on the travel industry. As people are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with others, a cascade of event cancellations and postponements has led to an estimated $24 billion lost and 825,000 jobs wiped out.

The company also announced the creation of a $10 million relief fund for "superhosts," or experienced and highly rated property owners, who rent out their own home to guests and need help paying their rent or mortgage. Hosts can apply for $5,000 grants that don't need to be repaid starting in April. The fund was started with employee donations that totaled $1 million; Airbnb's three co-founders personally contributed the rest, the company said.

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