Vienna Opera Ball 2021 is cancelled, Chancellor Kurz announces

Austria's most prestigious ball, an annual event at the Vienna State Opera, will not take place in February due to the continuing health risk, the government announced on Wednesday. "This decision was not easy," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in a statement, cited by dpa. "But we opted for the cancellation, as infections happen especially at parties and festivities."

The Vienna Opera Ball is an annual state event that draws around 7,000 celebrities, politicians, corporate chiefs and ordinary people each year and marks the peak of the Austrian capital's ball season, which gets into gear every January.

The announcement puts additional pressure on Vienna's vital tourism sector, which is facing travel warnings from several European governments amid rising Covid-19 case numbers. More than 500,000 people attended balls in the city last season, creating revenues of €140m, according to the local chamber of commerce.

Last week, several other popular balls that are organized by the city's doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, journalists and military officers were cancelled. Vienna's dancing schools, which prepare locals and tourists for the ball season, warned this week that most of them will have to go out of business soon because of strict new health regulations that limit classes to eight couples.

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