Much of Europe has opted for a similar strategy as infections keep rising, summer recedes into a risk-filled autumn and the possibility of a second wave looms over the continent. Having abandoned hopes of eradicating the virus or developing a vaccine quickly, people have largely gone back to work and school, leading lives as normally as possible amid a pandemic that has already killed nearly 215,000 in Europe.
The approach contrasts sharply to the United States, where restrictions to protect against the virus have been politically divisive and where many regions have pushed ahead with reopening schools, shops and restaurants without having baseline protocols in place. The result has been nearly as many deaths as in Europe, though among a far smaller population.
Europeans, for the most part, are putting to use the hard-won lessons from the pandemic’s initial phase: the need to wear masks and practice social distancing, the importance of testing and tracing, the critical advantages of reacting nimbly and locally. All of those measures are intended to prevent the kind of national lockdowns that paralyzed the continent and crippled economies early this year.