Almost a third of Hawaii’s workforce has filed for unemployment since mid-March. Photos of empty airports and boarded-up shops show the devastating toll of the coronavirus on the islands.

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A woman wearing a mask walks past police tape near closed Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, on March 28, 2020. Caleb Jones/AP Photo


Hawaii has one of the lowest coronavirus fatality rates in the US, thanks to its geographic isolation and ability to seal off its borders. As of May 5, the state had registered 17 coronavirus-related deaths.

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A view of the Napali Coast on Kauai. Alexander Demyanenko/Shutterstock

Source: Associated Press, State of Hawaii


However, its workforce has filed unemployment claims at the highest rate of any state during the pandemic.

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The entrance to a shopping centre is taped off in the tourist district of Waikiki in Honolulu, Oahu, on April 28, 2020. Marco Garcia/Reuters

Source: Associated Press, Wall Street Journal


194,000 people, or roughly 29% of Hawaii’s workforce, filed for unemployment in the six weeks leading up to April 25, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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A line of tour buses sit idle in Honolulu on April 28, 2020. Marco Garcia/Reuters

Source: Wall Street Journal


Preventing the spread of the coronavirus has been a “sacrifice” for businesses that have had to close down or lay off employees, Governor David Ige acknowledged this week, per the Associated Press.

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Hawaii Governor David Ige. Cathy Bussewitz/AP

Source: The Associated Press


Last year, over 10 million people visited Hawaii, generating $US2 billion in tax revenue and supporting 216,000 jobs. In May 2019 alone, almost 30,000 people travelled to the state daily.

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A black sand beach at Wai╩╗anapanapa State Park, Maui. Laszlo Podor/Getty Images

Source: Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawaiian Tourism Authority


Yesterday, just 845 people, 246 of whom were non-residents, arrived.

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Few people are in the departure lobby at Honolulu’s international airport on March 26, 2020. Audrey McAvoy/AP Photo

Source: Hawaiian Tourism Authority


On March 17, Ige encouraged tourists to stay away for at least 30 days and imposed a 14-day quarantine for visitors.

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A man stands in an empty waiting area at the Honolulu international airport on April 21, 2020. Caleb Jones/AP Photo

Source: State of Hawaii


Ige also required visitor attractions, restaurants, bars, and event spaces to close.

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A rental car location in Honolulu is closed due to business downturn on April 28, 2020. Marco Garcia/Reuters

Source: State of Hawaii


One week later, he issued a statewide stay-at-home order, which has been extended through May 31 along with the mandatory visitor quarantine.

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A man walks a dog in Honolulu on March 26, 2020. Caleb Jones/AP Photo

Source: State of Hawaii, State of Hawaii


The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii is even covering the cost of return flights for visitors who can’t afford to stay in a hotel or guesthouse in order to enforce the quarantine, the New York Times reported.

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Check-in terminals sit idle at the Honolulu international airport on April 28, 2020. Marco Garcia/Reuters

Source: State of Hawaii, Business Insider


With residents staying home and few visitors arriving on the islands, attractions like Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, a popular surf destination, are empty save for the occasional jogger, biker, or surfer.

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Waikiki Beach in Honolulu on April 28, 2020. Marco Garcia/Reuters

Source: Hawaii Magazine, State of Hawaii


Surf concession stands usually buzzing with customers stand vacant, and many shops have temporarily shuttered.

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A surfboard concession stand is closed on Waikiki Beach on April 28, 2020. Marco Garcia/Reuters

Source: Hawaii Chamber of Commerce


One-third of more than 600 businesses surveyed by the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce and industry associations last month reported that their revenues have been reduced “essentially to zero.”

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Two women walk past a boarded up luxury shop in the tourist district of Waikiki on April 28, 2020. Marco Garcia/Reuters

Source: Hawaii Chamber of Commerce


Retail stores and hotels have been particularly hard hit, and one in four businesses will have to permanently close without additional financial assistance, the survey found.

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A man rides his bike on Waikiki Beach on April 21, 2020. Caleb Jones/AP Photo

Source: Hawaii Chamber of Commerce


During the week leading up to April 25, Oahu, Hawaii, experienced the steepest year-over-year hotel occupancy decline of any location in the US, with less than 10% of its hotel rooms occupied, according to hospitality analytics company STR.

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Hotels line Waikiki Beach in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. SergiyN/Shutterstock

Source: STR


With the stay-at-home order and mandatory quarantine in effect through the end of May, the future is uncertain for many Hawaii businesses.

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A man stands in front of closed retail stores in a Waikiki neighbourhood on April 21, 2020. Caleb Jones/AP Photo

Source: State of Hawaii, Hawaii News Now


“I know this has been difficult for everyone. Businesses need to reopen. People want to end this self-isolation and we want to return to normal,” Ige said on April 25. “But this virus is potentially deadly.”

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A woman wearing a mask walks past police tape near Waikiki Beach on March 28, 2020. Caleb Jones/AP Photo

Source: State of Hawaii


“Thanks to our residents, we are flattening the curve, saving lives, and avoiding a resurgence of this virus by not reopening prematurely,” he added.

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A man walks past an empty luxury shop in the tourist district of Waikiki on April 28, 2020. Marco Garcia/Reuters

Source: State of Hawaii