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Zoom officials announced plans this week to lift the 40-minute limit on video calls made through the company’s free plan to allow users to connect virtually with friends and family over the holidays.

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“As a token of appreciation to our users during an extraordinary time, we’re removing the 40-minute limit on free Zoom accounts for all meetings globally for several upcoming special occasions,” company officials said Wednesday.

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Officials said the limit on Zoom Basic plan calls will be lifted for the last day of Hanukkah on Friday. It will also be lifted for Christmas, New Year’s and Kwanzaa. The company released the following dates and times for unlimited meetings:

  • 10 a.m. ET Thursday, Dec. 17, to 6 a.m. ET Saturday, Dec. 19
  • 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, Dec. 23, to 6 a.m. ET Saturday, Dec. 26
  • 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Dec. 30, to 6 a.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 2

The announcement comes as health officials warned Americans to keep upcoming holiday gatherings small to stymie the spread of the novel coronavirus.

>> Related: Over 17 million COVID-19 cases reported in US

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that people should stay home “as much as (they) can” and keep their interactions with people outside their households to a minimum.

“This cannot be business as usual this Christmas because we’re already in a very difficult situation, and we’re going to make it worse, if we don’t do something about it,” Fauci said.

>> Related: Coronavirus: US death toll surpasses 300K as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge nationwide

The U.S. continues to lead the world with the most reported coronavirus infections and the highest number of deaths. As of Friday morning, more than 17.2 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported nationwide, resulting in over 310,000 deaths, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University.

More than 75.1 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported globally, resulting in over 1.6 million deaths.