Vrbo has changed its stance on people making reservations in the Washington, DC area during the week of the inauguration. The company announced on January 19th, the day before the event, that it will block any new reservations through Friday, January 22nd. Vrbo previously stated it was evaluating new bookings and that it would “take appropriate action in coordination with law enforcement” if necessary.
The news was tweeted by Expedia Group (which owns Vrbo) and from the official Vrbo Twitter account. It comes in light of DC officials encouraging people to stay home and participate in the inauguration virtually.
Based on updated guidance provided by government officials regarding security threats, and as part of ongoing efforts to protect the safety of travelers, partners and communities, all new Vrbo reservations will be blocked in and around Washington, D.C. through Friday, 1/22.
— Vrbo (@vrbo) January 19, 2021
The company has slowly been changing its policies around inauguration rentals, after Buzzfeed News reported that residents are concerned about extremists using the service to stay in DC. But while Vrbo stated that it was “encouraging hosts to cancel bookings,” it’s not blanket-canceling reservations. When asked if this was still the case after today’s block, the company responded that it would indeed not cancel all existing reservations, but it is “re-vetting [them], to help ensure public safety.”
In comparison, Airbnb not only blocked new reservations, but it canceled existing ones as well. On January 6th, Vrbo stated that all new reservations would be subject to increased scrutiny and security, but it seems like we’ll just have to trust that those measures were effective, as the new ban seems like it’ll only affect people who are booking last minute.
The home-sharing apps are not the only ones trying to avoid more violence in the nation’s capital ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration: Facebook has shut down events near the White House, and Apple, Google, and Amazon have all worked to remove the distribution of Parler, an app that failed to moderate rioters during the attack on the Capitol building earlier this month.