March 26, 2020 / 2:32 AM / 10 days ago

Airbnb says U.S. coronavirus stimulus bill could offer its hosts some relief

FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen in front of diplayed Airbnb logo in this illustration taken March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Airbnb Inc hosts in the United States could get some relief from a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that is nearing a vote in Congress, the home-rental startup said on Wednesday.

The travel industry, including Airbnb, has been hard hit as governments worldwide impose restrictions on movement to help slow the spread of the virus, which has infected over 450,000 people across the globe and led to more than 21,000 deaths.

To relieve the economic impact in the United States, a massive federal aid bill that received bipartisan agreement on Wednesday includes temporary unemployment benefits for self-employed and gig workers during the coronavirus crisis.

In an email to Reuters, Airbnb expressed thanks to lawmakers for recognizing those who depend on income earned through renting out short-term accommodation via Airbnb’s website.

Under the bill, Airbnb said hosts or hosts with family members diagnosed with COVID-19 - the illness caused by the virus - would be able to apply for unemployment assistance.

Hosts deemed sole proprietors that report Airbnb income would also be eligible for small business loans to cover interest on mortgage payments, rent and utility bills if their business is impacted by the outbreak, Airbnb said.

Hosts who use independent contractors to clean or service properties would also be eligible for those loans to pay workers, the company said.

Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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