Days passed, he said, before it was clear that the virus circulating was the Delta variant, “and I went, oh, OK. Delta is a different thing.”

“I don’t think we could have anticipated what Delta would do here,” he said.

Infectious disease specialists have praised the community’s meticulous contact tracing, carried out largely by four nurses in Barnstable County, for helping them to understand the scope of the outbreak.

As town leaders debated what health measures to reintroduce, Mr. Morse said he was concerned about overreacting, or making decisions “based on the loudest and most frantic voices.”

But successive waves of tests showed a rising positivity rate, hitting a peak of 15 percent on July 15. The town issued an indoor mask advisory four days later, Mr. Morse said, and made it mandatory on July 25.

“We are entering a new era of having to live with the virus,” he said. “In the long term, it’s not going to be feasible to mask up one weekend and let it go the next.”

Late-summer Provincetown is a different Provincetown — still crowded, but cautious, alert for bad outcomes. The town’s positivity rate dropped to 4.6 percent on Thursday; its mask mandate will automatically become an advisory, and then be lifted, if it remains low.

Rick Murray, the general manager of the Crown and Anchor, a beachside inn that houses bars and nightclubs, says it is part of the community’s DNA to be “very, very responsible” in a health crisis.

“When the AIDS epidemic came, we took care of our own, and we will take care of our own now,” said Mr. Murray, who has been H.I.V. positive for 37 years. He said he anticipated that guarding against the virus will be challenging “for another two or three years, easily.”

“This is not going to go away,” he said.

It was simple enough for Liz Carney, 50, who owns the Four Eleven Gallery on Commercial Street, to revert to strict coronavirus protocols. There was muscle memory. For an opening scheduled for Friday, she went back to that old, restrained style: masks required, no beverages served, and only three people allowed in the gallery at a time.

Thinking back to the exuberant crowds of June, she said it was “a bit naïve” to think it was safe to congregate inside — but also, she misses them.

“There was just a joy and an exhilaration,” she said. “It was very exciting. I wish I had taken a twirl on the dance floor while I had a chance.”

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