“What we are saying is that in the next few months and years, we are going to have to think, without hesitancy and according to what science tells us, how to manage the pandemic with different parameters,” he said Monday.

When the coronavirus pandemic was first declared, Spaniards were ordered to stay home for more than three months. For weeks, they were not allowed outside even for exercise. Children were banned from playgrounds, and the economy virtually stopped.

But officials credited the draconian measures with preventing a full collapse of the health system. Lives were saved, they argued.

Now, almost two years later, Spain is preparing to adopt a different COVID-19 playbook. With one of Europe’s highest vaccination rates and its most pandemic-battered economies, the government is laying the groundwork to treat the next infection surge not as an emergency but an illness that is here to stay. Similar steps are under consideration in neighboring Portugal and in Britain.

The idea is to move from crisis mode to control mode, approaching the virus in much the same way countries deal with flu or measles. That means accepting that infections will occur and providing extra care for at-risk people and patients with complications.

Spain’s center-left prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, wants the European Union to consider similar changes now that the surge of the omicron variant has shown that the disease is becoming less lethal.

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