Airbnb steps forward to support Malaysian frontliners

Following Airbnb’s globalFrontline Stays initiative that helps house 100,000 healthcare professionals, relief workers, and first responders around the world, the company is now preparing to expand its programme to assist Covid-19 frontliners in Malaysia.

This will further provide them with safe and convenient places to stay while they carry out their critical work.

The programme’s launch in Malaysia, expected to roll out in April, will be a joint effort between Airbnb and Malaysian hosts, endorsed by the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH).

“The safety and wellbeing of our Covid-19 responders continue to remain one of the Ministry’s key priorities,” Dato’ Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, Deputy Minister of Health said in a statement.

In addition, Airbnb is also exploring collaborations with other local civil society and non-profit organisations to garner support for this initiative.

Airbnb’s incredible community of hosts have offered 100,000 places to stay for people responding to the pandemic. Through this programme, frontline staff can book both free and paid stays in 160 countries and regions.

Frontline Stays has also been expanded so that individual responders can book directly the Airbnb platform, allowing hosts to help even more people who are in immediate need.

Airbnb will be working with businesses, nonprofits and government and emergency management agencies supporting these healthcare staff and first responders.

Amid this global pandemic, Mich Goh, Head of Public Policy (Southeast Asia), Airbnb said Airbnb recognises that medical workers are at the forefront of saving lives and they are committed to work with the community to do whatever they can to support them.

“We’ve been inspired by the generosity of Malaysian hosts and non-profits who have reached out to us seeking ways to support their frontliners, Goh said.

“In light of the Movement Control Order, we’re glad to be able to collaborate with the MOH to do what we can collectively to provide a comforting home to these local heroes who are putting themselves at risk for us every day.”

Airbnb will also continue to waive all fees for the first 100,000 stays booked through this programme. Hosts can also opt into the programme and have the option of opening their homes for free through Airbnb’s Open Homes platform, created in 2012 to meet the needs of people requiring emergency housing.

If hosts are not able to host for free, Airbnb will still waive all fees on the stay.

“There are ongoing efforts to lend them as much support as possible, in order to enable them to continue doing their jobs, and we believe that this collaboration with Airbnb is a timely initiative which will contribute to those efforts,” Noor Azmi added.

Dato’ Seri Dr Chen Chaw Min, Secretary General, MOH, also commented that the efforts undertaken and goodwill shown by Airbnb in a bid to assist the government especially the healthcare front liners, by providing access to free or subsidised accommodations during the Covid-19 outbreak is highly appreciated.

Khairul and Nani, a husband-and-wife team of Airbnb hosts, have seen their listing booked by stranded overseas guests who have been unable to return home due to cancelled flights.

“Humanity comes first,” says Nani. “Everyone needs a roof to stay under, especially in this  trying time. We need to help each other in any way we can.”

Khairul added, “We hope Malaysian hosts will open Airbnb homes to frontline healthcare staff and first responders as they have been courageous in this fight against COVID-19.”

Accommodation for relief and medical workers who have higher exposure to Covid-19 requires robust preventive practices and stringent safety standards.

The protocol will be updated to incorporate new requirements from local and national authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to Airbnb,examples of safe hosting recommendations include listing entire homes and agreeing to a number of safety requirements including enhanced cleaning, social distancing with their guests, and allowing 72 hours between stays.

Airbnb’s partners or affiliates will ensure that stays are Covid-19 related and responders are familiar with safety protocols.

To help power even more stays for relief workers while they do their critical work, Airbnb has also launched a donation tool, with 100 percent proceeds to go directly to non-profits helping with Covid-19 relief efforts.

Hospitals and organisations can also use Airbnb to find accommodations for healthcare professionals, relief workers, and first responders on the frontlines of the Covid-19 response by signing up here.

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