Coronavirus Airbnb Boom in Israel: Renting for Two Weeks of Quarantine

As of Wednesday morning, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel had risen to 76. The day before, the government decreed that everybody entering Israel, including all Israelis returning from abroad from every country, must self-quarantine for 14 days. This isolation is not voluntary, it is mandatory. One consequence of the cautionary measures has been a plague of cancellations in the rental market for local holiday apartments and Airbnb home rentals to tourists.

Yet some landlords have found the silver lining in this debacle. Many of the tens of thousands of Israelis ordered to self-quarantine need a place to stay, an equipped one, far from their healthy families. At least some home-owners are seizing the moment.

Coronavirus in Tel Aviv: Many homeowners are offering discount rates for people in self-quarantine and are bending over backwards to ease their stay.Tomer Appelbaum

“The idea is to put together cancellations by tourists who don't come because of the Health Ministry restrictions, the harm to landlords, and the needs of people sent into quarantine who don’t have a place to isolate themselves properly,” says Eliraz Zohar, head of an Airbnb Host Israel Facebook group whose members include more than 1,500 vacation–home hosts in Israel. “More and more people are returning from abroad, have to remain in isolation, and don’t want to stay in proximity to their healthy families," he adds.

Even if one must considerately stay away from the family, one doesn't have to do it alone. "Recently I was contacted by five guys who came back from Spain and wanted to go into isolation together. They didn't much care where," Zohar says. "They requested a large apartment somewhere between Tel Aviv and Gan Yavneh. I uploaded an announcement out to the group and I got back a lot of responses from potential hosts."

Because the stay at stake is a relatively long 14 days, many homeowners are offering discount rates for people in self-quarantine and are bending over backwards to ease their stay, Zohar adds.

As a precaution, the managers of the online group are instructing the hosts to follow the cleanliness and disinfection instructions issued by the Health Ministry, he says. “We are trying as much as possible find apartments that are suitable for isolation – that is, apartments with an entrance separate from the rest of the building, so people in 'quarantine apartments' and healthy individuals don't mix,” he adds.

Isolated, in style