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Traveling during coronavirus: Should you cancel your Airbnb or hotel reservation?

With positive coronavirus cases on the rise around the world, many are wondering whether they should cancel vacation accommodations.

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The CDC has advised most travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea and most of Europe. For vulnerable populations – older adults and those with underlying medical conditions – the CDC had advised practicing enhanced precautions by postponing all travel. While the CDC “does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States,” the agency is still advising visitors to be cautious while visiting certain states or communities experiencing spread of the disease.

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If your hotel or Airbnb is located in one of the countries or areas banned from travel, it is advisable to cancel your accommodations. Fortunately, several major hotel chains, as well as travel share site, Airbnb, have extended policies to cover travelers during the coronavirus outbreak.

The CDC has advised most travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea and most of Europe.

The CDC has advised most travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea and most of Europe.
(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

On Friday, Airbnb announced it would be making changes to its Extenuating Circumstances Policy to apply to bookings in the United States and allow guests to cancel eligible reservations without charge.

Earlier this week, Airbnb said it would be introduced new reservation policies, per its More Flexible Reservations program, to better help visitors be more flexible with their travel plans as the coronavirus situation continues to change.

“We will also do our part to provide guests more peace of mind. For bookings made now through June 1, 2020, if guests need to cancel and are not due a refund of the Airbnb guest service fee, we will refund that fee as a travel coupon which can be used on a future trip,” a statement from the company read.

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Though most hotel chains do not have official coronavirus policies, several major companies have extended programs to allow for cancellations or reservation changes without fees. Brands like Hilton – which operates DoubleTree, Hampton and Embassy Suites – say all reservations scheduled for check-in by April 30 can be altered with no fee, or canceled with full refund.

Mariott has also stated that it would be waiving cancellation fees through March 31 for guests traveling to or from specific locations in the Asia-Pacific region and Italy.

Meanwhile, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, which is made up of popular hotel chains like Hilton, Best Western, Red Roof Inn, Marriott and others, has confirmed its hotels’ commitment to preventing the spread of the disease.

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“Hotels already follow strict guidelines and protocols designed to help prevent spread of diseases from the flu to less common illnesses, and AHLA will continue to monitor the latest developments tied to this virus issued by government and health officials,” the AHLA said.

Though international and domestic travel has not been entirely banned, it is strongly advised that you take necessary precautions to protect yourself and those around you from getting COVID-19. To ensure your safety, make sure you travel with cleaning wipes to clean off armrests, seats, handles or other areas that may have been touched by others. Also consistently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face, and practice social distancing while out.

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CORONAVIRUS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The tourism and travel industry has taken a huge hit since the pandemic first hit – with international travel expected to fall by 1.5 percent this year, the first drop since 2009, Reuters reported, and compared to the only 0.3 percent drop during the 2003 SARS outbreak.

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