The short-lets platform has reacted swiftly to huge pressure from people and government as many hosts have continued to stay open for bookings during the Easter break and beyond, encouraging people to travel unnecessarily.

Airbnb has blocked all new UK bookings for stays up to at least 18th April unless they’re for key workers or other essential stays.

It follows criticism from local councils around the country who are urging letting agents and online booking platforms to follow Government closure orders and reject bookings during the emergency period.

Councils such as Cornwall and Kent have been fielding complaints ahead of the Easter weekend that some holiday accommodation providers are still hosting guests and operating illegally.

Airbnb says listings that are visible on its platform won’t be open for stays until next weekend and that it will review this temporary block on calendars on a regular basis after that. Last week, the platform blocked private room stays and switched off the ‘instant book’ feature for whole properties.

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Government guidance

Patrick Robinson, director of public policy at Airbnb, says: “Restricting bookings on Airbnb to key workers and other essential stays will allow hosts to continue supporting frontline workers while following government guidance.”

With temperatures expected to soar this week, holiday hotspots in Kent have been found to be flouting Government guidelines. When a local newspaper approached hosts around the county to enquire about the Easter break it found some in Margate and Whitstable willing to take their money. A search of beachside village Sandgate returned 61 rental listings for a three-night stay this coming weekend.

A BBC investigation earlier this week also discovered Airbnb hosts listing homes as being “Covid-19 retreats” and “perfect for isolating with family” in the British countryside, with some allowing instant booking of rentals without any vetting.

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