Temporary rental website Airbnb has stepped forward amid the coronavirus crisis to offer free accommodation for medical workers across the world, including those here in the UK serving the NHS. Already over 1,500 free places have been offered by hosts across the nation to support NHS hospitals and trusts, and other healthcare organisations.
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The initiative is part of a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which hopes to connect 100,000 frontline workers with places to stay.
Whether professionals need to relocate to help bolster medical services in other cities or countries or feel they need to be closer to their workplace, the rental site hopes to provide safe and clean accommodation for those in need.
While the website usually pairs holidaymakers with places to stay during their travel, Airbnb has switched direction amid the global pandemic.
Working closely with the NHS, hosts with entire homes are being given cleanliness protocols that they must abide by to ensure the safety of their families and the guests they welcome to stay.
A similar initiative in both France and Italy has already been successful, with more than 8,000 hosts opening up their homes to doctors, nurses, caregivers and other medical support staff.
On March 18 a pilot programme was launched in Italy, one of the main hotspots of the pandemic.
Dubbed “Airbnb For Doctors and Nurses” the programme then expanded into France on March 14 through Airbnb’s Open Homes programme, which usually provides free housing to those in disaster zones.
Now, the initiative has gone globes, calling upon citizens of every nation to help medical staff working round the clock in this unprecedented time.
“Unprecedented times call for an unprecedented response and as the world unites to fight the coronavirus outbreak, we have made it our priority as a community to provide what support we can,” said France’s Airbnb Director, Emmanuel Marill, in a statement.
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“By standing with our host community to offer free accommodation for caregivers and social workers we hope we can help heroic professionals on the front lines as they work to protect us all and save lives.
“Any host who is willing to provide free accommodation can visit www.airbnb.co.uk/d/medicalstaysuk to find out more about the health and hygiene practises necessary, as well as how they can sign up.
Meanwhile, NHS trusts, hospitals or any other UK healthcare organisation can set up an Airbnb account where they can register eligible staff for a place.
Patrick Robinson, Director of Public Policy, at Airbnb, said: “The entire country is behind our heroic NHS and medical staff as they battle the coronavirus outbreak.
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“We have made it our priority to stand with the Airbnb community to do what we can to help.
“By working together, we can ensure that frontline workers can find a free and convenient place to stay as they continue their critical work.
“We thank our doctors and nurses across the country from the bottom of our hearts and are grateful to hosts who have already opened their homes during these difficult times.”
The news comes as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus surpasses 880,000 globally.
In the UK alone there are 29,474 confirmed cases at the time of writing.
However, the UK government has announced a push for more testing across the UK.
The government has set a target of carrying out 25,000 tests a day, though it is not expected to be met until the end of April.
Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Mr Gove said: “More NHS staff are returning to the front line, and more testing is taking place to help those self-isolating come back and to protect those working so hard in our hospitals and in social care.
“But while the rate of testing is increasing, we must go further, faster.”
Mr Gove added: “We are working with companies worldwide to ensure that we get the material we need to increase tests of all kinds.”
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