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City, Airbnb Crack Down on Mass Gatherings

Susan Post Susan Post City, Airbnb Crack Down on Mass Gatherings
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Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Tuesday, May 5 with information from Airbnb.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein is providing the Columbus Police Department with new guidance regarding cracking down on house parties and mass gatherings in the city.

“To stop more reckless and selfish conduct, I’m recommending that CPD issue citations to any individuals who defy the state’s order prohibiting large gatherings,” said Klein. “Our officers have been called to the University District, short-term rentals and other gatherings too often and warnings are no longer enough. To address this community-wide health emergency, we need community-wide compliance.”  

According to ABC 6, Columbus Police responded to two separate parties at short-term rental houses the weekend of April 11-12. The two parties took place about two miles apart just southeast of Downtown. One party had approximately 30 guests, and the other 60.

In early April, short-term rental company Airbnb announced it would ban hosts from authorizing parties in regions where current public health mandates prohibit events and gatherings. 

According to the state’s stay at home order, which was in effect through May 1, “All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited.” There are limited exceptions – such as for wedding receptions – with the number of guests capped at 10.

As the stay at home order expired, a Stay Safe Ohio order was issued, effective through 11:59 p.m. on May 29. The order continues to place the same limits on mass gatherings, with Airbnb not allowing any type of party in Columbus until further notice. The website has also disables its event-friendly search filter.

Klein’s office is advising CPD to charge relative to these large residential parties without giving a warning, which was the department’s previous policy. The new guidance will impact “off-campus house parties, gatherings at short-term rental properties and any other large gathering not exempted by the order.” Those in volition of the order will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.

Airbnb says, “Not only will we ban guests who attempt to throw an unauthorized party in a Columbus Airbnb listing, we will be cooperating with Columbus Police in any investigations relating to parties and violations of public health mandates, consistent with our Terms of Service.”

As of April 10, the highest rate of coronavirus infection in the City of Columbus and Franklin County was among 20-29 year-olds, accounting for 199 cases. As of May 1, the highest number of cases was among 30-39 year-olds with 491, followed by 20-29 year-olds with 476 cases.

For more information, visit city-attorney.columbus.gov.

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