Apr 24, 2020 - Health

Bill Gates' brutal reality check on the coronavirus reopening

Bill Gates while speaking on MSNBC
Screenshot via MSNBC

Bill Gates, who has warned about the impact of a global pandemic for years, has a brutal reality check on his GatesNotes blog — an antidote to happy talk about "reopening America."

Why it matters: Gates shows that activity will remain severely constrained — making you wonder how many businesses will be able to survive even after they "open up."

Listen to Gates' description of the "semi-normal" phase that most developed countries will move into in the next two months:

"People can go out, but not as often, and not to crowded places. Picture restaurants that only seat people at every other table, and airplanes where every middle seat is empty. Schools are open, but you can’t fill a stadium with 70,000 people. People are working some and spending some of their earnings, but not as much as they were before the pandemic ...
"One example of gradual reopening is Microsoft China, which has roughly 6,200 employees. So far about half are now coming in to work ...
"They insist people with symptoms stay home. They require masks and provide hand sanitizer and do more intensive cleaning. Even at work, they apply distancing rules and only allow travel for exceptional reasons. China has been conservative about opening up and has so far avoided any significant rebound."

Gates warns: "Large sporting and entertainment events probably will not make the cut for a long time; the economic benefit of the live audience doesn’t measure up to the risk of spreading the infection."

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