Airbnb suspends host who refused accommodation to vaccinated guests

Airbnb suspends host who refused accommodation to vaccinated guests

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Airbnb has suspended a Victorian host for barring guests who have recently received the coronavirus vaccine and falsely claiming they might infect others.

The host of Ruby Hills Organic Chook Shed in Walkerville in south-west Gippsland stated on her Airbnb listing that she did not accept bookings from guests who had been vaccinated with “experimental C-19 gene therapy vaccines” in the past three weeks.

“Due to the fact that this jab has not been safety tested and is showing signs of transfection [sic] to those that have not had it, we are doing our best to keep our family and fertility safe,” the host wrote.

“Thank you for your understanding. This is a strict policy.”

Ruby Hills Organics Chook Shed falsely claimed that recently vaccinated guests might infect others.

The “simple, vintage, calm” solar-powered accommodation is located on a working farm, and guests are greeted with “a freshly cooked organic frittata” upon arrival, according to the listing on the popular accommodation site.

It’s the second Victorian host that Airbnb has suspended this month, with another accommodation provider reprimanded after refusing to accommodate a Melbourne couple who had received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine due to false claims they might shed the virus.

The host of Ruby Hills Organic Chook Shed, who is promoted as a highly rated “superhost” on the site, deleted the message about vaccinated guests following inquiries from The Age. The entire listing has now been removed by Airbnb. The host later told The Age that she did not have a vaccination policy.

Meagan, who does not want her surname published because she fears retribution from anti-vaxxers, came across the listing on Tuesday night after searching for a getaway ahead of the easing of Victoria’s coronavirus restrictions.

“I looked at the photos of the listing and I thought, ‘this is so cute’. Then I saw the message about vaccinated guests and promptly closed the listing,” the 38-year-old from Montmorency in Melbourne’s north-east said. “I thought, this is so sad. I was shocked that this was so close to Melbourne. What they said was so false.”

Meagan plans to report the listing to Airbnb and said she’s concerned about the message it sends people who are hesitant about getting the vaccine.

“It might make them feel that there are people out there who don’t want them near them.”

Claims that the vaccine affects fertility have been debunked by leading health experts, as has misinformation that being near a vaccinated person is harmful because of “shedding”.

Derek Nolan, Airbnb’s head of public policy for Australia, said the company had suspended the Ruby Hills Organic Chook Shed’s listing for violating the company’s COVID-19 content policy.

“It’s important that everyone closely follows official health guidance from local authorities as we all continue to do our part to combat COVID-19,” he said.

While coronavirus vaccine hesitancy continues to be an issue across Australia, new research from the University of Melbourne shows that the lockdowns in NSW and Victoria have boosted people’s confidence in the vaccine.

The fortnightly Vaccine Hesitancy Report Card found vaccine hesitancy sank from 33 per cent at the end of May to 21.5 per cent of the adult population on July 23, with hesitancy currently lowest among NSW residents at 14.6 per cent.

Those aged between 18 to 44 had the highest rate of vaccine hesitancy at 28.8 per cent, while Queensland was the highest among states and territories at 30.9 per cent.

The results showed that 78.5 per cent of Australians would happily get vaccinated immediately if supply was available from the federal government.

With Michael Fowler

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