Airbnb Lays Off a Quarter of Employees Due to Coronavirus Fallout: 'This Is Incredibly Difficult'

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the company has been trying to adapt and engage its users in new, travel-free ways.

Last month, Airbnb announced the launch of an online version of its popular Airbnb Experiences, which brings virtual sessions to users looking to stay engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new service offers an array of activities, including one-on-one cooking lessons and guided meditation.

In honor of World Book Day on April 23, Airbnb allowed guests to virtually connect over their shared love of books alongside bestselling authors and passionate hosts.

Through all its available experiences, Airbnb hopes to make time in self-isolation more fulfilling.

“Human connection is at the core of what we do,” said Catherine Powell, head of Airbnb Experiences, in a press release last month. “With so many people needing to stay indoors to protect their health, we want to provide an opportunity for our hosts to connect with our global community of guests in the only way possible right now, online.”

Airbnb is also working to help those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic with its new initiative, announced in March, that provides free or subsidized housing for 100,000 workers.

Airbnb hosts are able to participate in the program through Airbnb’s Open Homes platform, and if a homeowner is unable to commit to hosting for free, the company will waive all fees. Hosts are also able to opt into adopting new cleanliness protocols, which were developed alongside health experts and officials.

The Open Homes program — which originated after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 — most recently provided housing to those in need during Hurricane Florence in 2018.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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