Airbnb partners Ubuntu Beds on free medical staff accommodation

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Airbnb has partnered with Ubuntu Beds to provide SA’s frontline medical staff with subsidised accommodation via the home-sharing platform, as they continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative was introduced as part of Airbnb’s Frontline Stays Global Programme, which allows Airbnb hosts to share their homes with those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, who may need isolation or quarantine facilities, or require accommodation as a precaution to protect their loved ones.

As SA has moved to lockdown alert level two, with restrictions across the country easing, Airbnb says it will leverage the generosity of its hosts across the country and waive all fees for these stays, to help house medical staff, as they work tirelessly to keep South Africans safe.

Ubuntu Beds is an initiative that aims to unite hospitality businesses such as hostels, hotels, B&Bs and guest-houses, which have been hit by travel bans and lockdown, with healthcare workers to ensure they don’t need to travel long distances to go home to their families.

The organisation says it has already helped connect more than 750 critical workers to over 13 000 nights in accommodation across SA.

By August, more than 24 000 healthcare workers in SA were infected with COVID-19, while another 181 lost their lives to the virus, according to media reports.

“As restrictions ease and travel operations return, SA hosts on Airbnb are opening their homes to frontline medical staff in need of a place to stay,” says Velma Corcoran, Airbnb regional manager for Middle East and Africa.

“We’ve heard from numerous hosts throughout the pandemic who have wanted to help support our heroic medical staff as they continue their battle to keep us all safe. We’re now delighted to team-up with Ubuntu Beds to leverage the generosity of hosts on Airbnb and support this important work.”

Since introducing the Frontline Stays programme, Airbnb says it has worked with governments and organisations across the world to connect frontline medical staff to more than 100 000 nights in subsidised accommodation.

Airbnb also launched #GetBehindTheMask in May, a host-led campaign to help provide masks and face coverings to underserved communities across SA.

“We are delighted to work with Airbnb and are grateful for the generosity of hosts in SA. This collaboration will allow medics to enjoy the comfort of home in communities closer to hospitals, as they continue their critical work,” says Kim Whitaker, CEO of Ubuntu Beds.

Last month, Airbnb distributed R1 million in financial relief to its hosts, as it awaited government’s guidance on the safe re-opening of operations on the home-sharing platform.

Government lifted its ban on Airbnb hosting in South Africa on 17 August, more than eight weeks after other accommodation establishments were allowed to operate.

Frontline workers in need of a place to stay can visit Ubuntu Beds or get in touch via WhatsApp on 0713001672.

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