Thailand Lifts Ban on Cockfighting as Virus Outbreak Eases

Thailand lifted a ban on cockfighting competitions, once seen as major sources for Covid-19 clusters, as authorities continued to roll back restrictions imposed to contain the biggest coronavirus wave to hit the nation.

Cockfighting arenas can reopen with spectators, allowing the popular sport to resume their games and trades, after a group of gamecock breeders met Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha on Thursday.

Crowded cockfighting rings and gambling houses were among Thailand’s virus hotspots earlier this year, with hundreds of cases were traced back to them. The ban came as these venues were seen as a major risk as they brought many people together in tight quarters over an extended period of time, usually without face masks and with lots of talking and shouting -- ideal conditions for the coronavirus to thrive.

Thailand has eased most of the restrictions on businesses and travel after stemming a flareup in outbreak that sent the nation Covid-19 cases soaring to more than 28,000 from under 5,000 in mid-December. The tourism-reliant nation is also set to ease quarantine rules for foreign visitors from next month as it pushes to revive the economy from the worst contraction in more than two decades.

The government will continue to gradually relax control measures as it consider the health of the economy and people as equally important, Prayuth told reporters.

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