In terms of social, cultural and economic impacts, however, 1918 is not a precedent. The first wave, especially in the United States, was so mild it passed without notice, and no city took any public health action. During the second wave, most cities closed schools, theaters and saloons, and some required masks. But one of the biggest differences between the 1918 pandemic and this one is duration. The 1918 disease usually affected a given community for about six to eight weeks, and restrictions generally lasted only three to five weeks — too short a period for any permanent impact on behavior.
Since the disease disappeared abruptly, society returned to pre-pandemic normal quickly. The third wave hit many cities — though, not all — but no one knew it was coming, so it didn’t affect behaviors, and few places reinstituted restrictions for it.