(Bloomberg) --

The London Bullion Market Association canceled its annual dinner this week over concerns about the new coronavirus variant, signaling the potential for wider disruption to the corporate events calendar.

The black-tie event for gold bankers, refiners and traders was due to take place Wednesday at London’s Natural History museum. Instead, an online seminar will be held, replacing an in-person version that was to precede the dinner.

“This decision has been made due to tightening Covid-19 restrictions in the U.K. and around the world following the discovery of the new ‘Omicron’ variant,” LBMA Chief Executive Officer Ruth Crowell said in a statement. “This decision has not been taken lightly and is a judgment we feel is in the best interests of all attendees given the current circumstances.”

There had been hopes that mass vaccination would allow in-person events to resume after the pandemic decimated industry gatherings over the past two years. The LBMA was twice forced to cancel its annual conference, while the London Metal Exchange Week was scaled down.

The emergence of the new mutation -- dubbed omicron -- has sparked a global race to understand how quickly it spreads and how existing vaccines will respond. First identified in Botswana and South Africa, cases have now been found in several countries, including the U.K., Canada and Australia. Governments across the globe stepped up restrictions on travel as the World Health Organization warned that omicron could fuel a fresh surge in infections.

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