Airbnb has reportedly taken a $1.5 billion hit in the COVID-19 pandemic. Embattled CEO, Brian Chesky, is reported to be living with his mum again, bemoaning, “it felt like everything was breaking at once”.
Perhaps the short-stay behemoth’s financial predicament prompted a sudden awakening in the uncharacteristically morose Mr Chesky, who mused wistfully about regressing Airbnb to its genesis as a couch-surfing platform.
In an interview published by The Sunday Times this month, the Airbnb CEO was reported as saying, “We grew so fast, we made mistakes. We drifted. We really need to think through our impact on cities and communities.”
Chesky was further quoted as saying the COVID-19 pandemic is “a reset for everything and everyone. Airbnb needs to change. We need to go back to basics – to what really made us successful in the first place.”
Sadly, this illuminating insight is unlikely to reset Airbnb’s moral compass.
High-rise apartments “vertical cruise ships”
Julian Rait OAM, president of the Australian Medical Association Victoria, has described how COVID-19 can spread easily through high-rise towers and apartment blocks.
This enormous epidemiological risk has given rise to the expression “vertical cruise ships of pandemics”.
Recalcitrant short-stay operators are therefore compromising the safety of residential buildings by continuing to advertise during the Stage 4 lockdown.
Most commercial short-stay operators have closed shop, with many apartments reverting back to long-term leases or have been sold; with residents in many high-rise strata communities throughout Melbourne rediscovering the “quiet enjoyment” of their homes.
Just a few diehard rogue operators are flagrantly breaching COVID-19 restrictions that are arguably the most important safety protections that high-rise buildings could have.
The government has said it is working on this loophole and we are impatiently awaiting meaningful action.
If you see any illegal short-stay activity in your apartment building, report it immediately to the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or online at onlinereporting.police.vic.gov.au
You can also contact We Live Here if you require any advice or assistance.
Short-stays will endanger the COVID-19 recovery phase
It has become axiomatic that there will be a “new normal” following the lifting of Stage 4 lockdown restrictions.
Undoubtedly, the putative new normal will not be able to accommodate the return of commercial short-stay operations in high-rise residential buildings.
In this pandemic-afflicted era, common areas and compact spaces in busy lifts are simply incompatible with a high-volume turnover of “guests” in whole-apartment short-stays.
The state government needs to act now to frame regulations to mitigate the very real possibility of apartment short-stays triggering another pandemic outbreak.
Nobody wants another lockdown. Don’t let apartment short-stays cause the next outbreak.
Cladding: building tally reaches 550
Cladding Safety Victoria (CSV) has advised We Live Here that more than 550 buildings across Victoria have now been referred to CSV, an increase of about 60 in the past three months.
CSV has met with more than 400 individual owners’ corporations (OCs) who have entered the program to discuss how they can assist in the process of cladding removal on their building.
More than 250 buildings have now been inspected and more than 100 independent project managers (IPMs) appointed to manage individual projects.
CSV told We Live Here that it was confident of having 100 buildings with rectification works in progress by the end of the year.
Fast-tracking of program
The Victorian government announced in June that it would bring forward funding to fast-track the rectification works to remove more cladding from apartment buildings sooner and support the construction industry in the wake of COVID-19.
To achieve this, CSV has reached out to a number of original builders that represent a substantial number of buildings already in the program; to date, there has been no indication of how many original builders have been approved for the program.
Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions
Cladding rectification works have been classified as permitted works by the state government under critical state works throughout the Stage 4 lockdown.
CSV has a COVIDSafe Plan in place and all staff and contractors on their sites will have a permit under the state government’s permit scheme. Their contractors are also obligated to have their own COVIDSafe Plans.
Comment from We Live Here
While it is reassuring to learn that the cladding rectification work is proceeding according to plan and not unduly affected by the current stage 4 restrictions, we are concerned that there is no published information about when or how funding will be allocated.
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