AN accommodation website which advertised properties available in Dorset for the Easter break has blocked bookings over the coming days after a furious backlash.

Up until yesterday morning, more than a hundred properties in the county were still available to book though Airbnb for this weekend despite current lockdown rules – and some even advertised the opportunity to self-isolate in the county.

These were not the area’s hotels or B&Bs but properties such as cottages rented out by owners.

The website is an online marketplace for arranging or offering lodging, primarily home stays.

Yesterday, a two-bedroom house near West Bay was advertised for £150 per night and was available this weekend, while a whole host of accomodation was available along the coast road. 

Hosts have since been blocked from accepting guests until April 18.

It is understood that key workers, who may need to self-isolate to minimise potential risk to their families, will still be able to book properties and the website does state it’s helping to connect frontline workers with hosts offering free places to stay during the pandemic.

West Dorset MP Chris Loder says he called the company yesterday morning to express his shock that it was still encouraging people to visit Bridport, Lyme Regis and the wider area of west Dorset over coming weeks, the period in which the coronavirus pandemic is expected to peak locally.

He also raised concerns about some properties offering ‘isolation breaks.’

Mr Loder said: “Airbnb is paying lip service to the Government’s advice that otherwise we are all following. At a time when we are expecting a peak in the Coronavirus pandemic locally, and our Prime Minister is in hospital, Airbnb has blood on its hands by actively encouraging visitors to flout the Government’s advice and to visit here – thereby encouraging the spread of this wretched virus.”

While Airbnb has since suspended bookings, he called on all other booking platforms to stop accepting bookings with immediate effect.

It comes as Dorset Police sends out a clear message for the weekend - Dorset is closed.

Officers will be policing roads and other transport networks over the weekend and have asked the public not to travel.

A Dorset Police spokesman said: “Please do not visit us now. You will be welcomed back when the time is right and restrictions around travel and social distancing have been lifted.

“If we stop vehicles and they are travelling to a second home we will ask them to return to their primary residence.

“Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People must remain in their primary residence.

“We’ve been given additional powers to fine those refusing to follow Government instructions so please stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Airbnb has not yet responded to a request for comment.