Much of Europe returned to some form of lockdown in the fall, but the restrictions tended to be less restrictive than in the spring. They certainly haven’t been in place as long.

Many countries closed bars and restaurants, and nearly all at least limited their opening hours. Social gatherings were also limited — in Germany’s case, to groups of up to five from a maximum of two households (children are exempted).

But schools have remained open across nearly all of the continent and the disruption to economic activity, while highly significant, hasn’t been quite as severe (though many governments have faced anti-lockdown protests).

The fact that countries like Italy were able to bend the curve so quickly with partial lockdowns is encouraging, says Stephen Kissler, a researcher at Harvard who models the spread of diseases, including COVID-19.

“The evidence shows that these full lockdowns we underwent in the spring aren’t necessary now,” he says.