Bill Gates believes travel for work will never be the same after the coronavirus: ‘There are a few things, like business trips, that I doubt will ever go back’

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With much of society shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, the big question on everyone’s mind remains: When will things go back to normal?

The answer isn’t straightforward and, in some cases, can be hard to swallow.

“We can open up in certain ways hopefully in the United States by early June if things go well,” Bill Gates, the Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist, said in a new interview with LinkedIn’s podcast “This Is Working.” “But it won’t be where you’re doing large public gatherings or even filling up a restaurant.”

Gates has previously said he expects students to return to school this fall. But he has repeatedly warned against a full return to normality until a vaccine is available for the general population — something that is still at least 18 months away.

“It’ll be semi-normal until that vaccine is out there in billions of doses,” he said, adding that “until you’ve got that vaccine widely used, life will still be not back to normal.”

There are some things, he said, that are unlikely to ever return to normal.

“There are a few things, like business trips, that I doubt will ever go back,” he said. It’s simply a measure of necessity and risk, Gates said.

“In the case of high school, I think the social activity — you know, making friends, hanging out — that you get by being there physically, that’s totally irreplaceable,” he said.

But business trips? Not so much. “There will still be business trips,” he said, “but, you know, less.”