Airbnb suspends dozens of New Jersey rentals that violate coronavirus restrictions

Airbnb said Friday it has suspended or removed 35 rentals across New Jersey, which comes days after the state’s governor linked indoor house parties to a recent rise in coronavirus cases.

The giant online rental company said it made the move following complaints of house parties that violate coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.

“We stand with Governor Murphy, and we support his call to action to stop parties and promote behavior that respects the public’s health,” Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s senior vice president of global policy and communications, said in a statement.

“We ban party houses and will not tolerate irresponsible behavior on our platform.”

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The affected listings stretch across 11 counties in north, central and south New Jersey, the company said in its press release.

Airbnb said it was alerted to most of the parties by callers to its 24-hour hotline.

All of the 35 rentals “have received complaints or otherwise violated our policies on parties and events,” the company said, adding that a “vast majority” of hosts in the state have been following guidelines.

Gov. Phil Murphy at a news conference Wednesday singled out indoor parties as contributing to an increase in coronavirus cases.

“They are how coronavirus gets passed around more efficiently,”he said. “They are not safe. Period.”

Murphy said a “series” of recent house parties, including one in Middletown, have been linked to more than 50 new cases. Nearly three dozen Surf City lifeguards have also tested positive for the virus after attending gatherings on Long Beach Island, the governor said.

And earlier this week, three people were charged after Jackson Township police broke up a house party that had more than 700 guests. Murphy said Wednesday that it is not yet known how many coronavirus cases may arise from that party, but the state’s health commissioner believes there will be many.

The governor tweeted Thursday that the state had 261 new positive cases. New Jersey has had more than 183,000 cases of the coronavirus and nearly 15,800 deaths, according to NBC News’ tally.


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