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At 'Dorm Style' Airbnb, Guests Share Rooms, Even During Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- People all over the world are doing their best to stay away from strangers right now. Imagine sharing an apartment with one.

An Airbnb host in Rogers Park has a "dorm-style" listing, much like a hostel, where guests share spaces and sometimes even bedrooms with others.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas learned, even in a pandemic, some people are still staying there.

Airbnb host Joe Rossetti said he wants his guests to be happy.

"We've now added hand sanitizer, which is a requirement from the city," he said.

Right now, even with rates as low as $10 per night, those guests are few and far between.

"We have six guests. Usually, this time of year, we would have between 12 and 15 guests; between both floors and four bedrooms," Rossetti said.

That means the bedrooms all have two beds. People staying his Airbnb share common areas, and depending on availability, even bedrooms with people they don't know.

Rossetti said fewer guests means more space, but still, six feet apart isn't always possible.

"We offer to pick up groceries for everybody, so they don't have to leave the house and expose themselves to more people," he said.

Rossetti said he usually caters to longer-term, month-to-month guests in the winter.

A couple new guests stayed earlier this week, but Rossetti said most of his business is coming from long-term guests who booked in the winter and aren't moving out in a pandemic.

"Two of the people that are stuck with us right now wanted to get a new place, but they keep having roommates fall through, so they keep renewing with us," he said.

He usually has more short-term guests in the spring and summer, but right now he prefers long-term, because he doesn't want to keep people shuffling in and out.

In fact, he said he asks each new guest a series of questions on where they've been, where they'll be going, if they've been sick, and what they're doing to stay safe. His guests are free to come and go, but he wants to make sure they're responsible.

"We've declined more people in the past three months than we've declined ever in the entire history of us running this for almost nine years," he said.

Rossetti said a couple potential guests even cancelled plans to stay at his Airbnb, because they didn't like his questions. He said that's probably a good thing.

"If we get the impression they're not taking it seriously, we just decline them, and don't allow them to stay," he said.

So far, none of the guests have had any symptoms, according to Rossetti. He's hoping it stays that way.

Rossetti does not live on-site, but he said one of the guests, who's been there for a couple years now, is a co-host. So he helps out with daily cleaning.

They've also added more desks in the common areas, so all guests can work from home, or at least their temporary home.

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