Airbnb announced Friday that American bookings can be cancelled without penalty to either guests or hosts.

The company had faced increasing criticism that as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads in the states, customers who wanted to cancel bookings were receiving less than full refunds.

America is now on the Airbnb list of countries with "extenuating circumstances" to allow reservations to be cancelled without charge. The other countries on the list are mainland China, South Korea and Italy.

The new policy only applies to reservations booked on or before March 13th with check-in dates of April 1st or earlier, the company said.

The company is also recognizing that with President Donald Trump's new ban on travel by non-citizens from all countries in Europe except for the U.K. and Ireland, many travel plans are in flux. The company is waiving fees for changing reservations for these reasons:

  • "In order to comply with disease control restrictions implemented by relevant governmental or health authorities
  • "In order to perform medical or disease control duties in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • "As a result of flight or ground transportation cancellations initiated by an airline or ground transportation provider due to the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • "In the event that they are diagnosed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 by a medical or health authority."

For travelers who were going to travel from America to the affected European countries, Airbnb will waive cancellation fees for reservations made on or before March 11th for travel between March 13th to April 13th. 

"We will continue to assess the situation and will provide further information as matters progress. We strongly advise all travelers to carefully review and select appropriate cancellation policies according to personal needs and the outlook on COVID-19," the company said on its website.