AIRBNB is to stop taking bookings in the UK after the firm was criticised for continuing to advertise available holiday lets in Scotland.

Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara and Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford had led calls for the holiday rental website to cease trading in Scotland.

They had warned that doing so risked a surge of unwanted visitors arriving in the Highlands and Islands over Easter, risking the further spread of coronavirus.

Earlier this week it emerged that the site was listing properties advertised as places to self-isolate.

They included a house in Edinburgh described as being "the perfect place to isolate yourself from the coronavirus".

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Plea for Airbnb owners to stop trading in Highlands and Islands

Airbnb has now announced that it will shut down its booking service until at least April 18, unless they are for key workers.

The site had warned customers to check travel restrictions before making a booking.

A statement from the firm read: "From 9am today it will not be possible to book a stay on Airbnb in the United Kingdom during the current lockdown period."

Blackford welcomed the move but said all bookings should now be cancelled.

He tweeted: “Whilst I am grateful for this announcement from Air BnB this should have been the case from the outset of the lockdown.

“I hope the company has learnt lessons from this. There is the outstanding matter of bookings that are in place. They should all be cancelled.”

An exception will be made for Airbnb's initiative which offers free stays for NHS staff and paid or subsidised stays for other key workers exempt from the Government's travel restrictions.

Last week, the firm blocked private room bookings and temporarily removed the ability for whole properties to be instantly booked.

Airbnb director of public policy Patrick Robinson commented: "Hosts across the UK are playing a vital role in housing NHS and other medical staff as they continue their critical work.

"We've also heard from hosts who want to help others follow the rules and keep people safe during these unprecedented times.

"Restricting bookings on Airbnb to key workers and other essential stays will allow hosts to continue supporting front-line workers while following Government guidance."

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