Zoom allowing unlimited video calls for Christmas, New Year’s holidays

Zoom will allow unlimited time on video calls over Christmas and New Year’s so families and friends can spend more virtual time together for the holidays.

The video conferencing company will remove the 40-minute limit on free accounts so users can spend more time with their loved ones with whom they are unable to gather safely this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Whether coming together on the final day of Hanukkah, celebrating Christmas, ringing in the New Year, or marking the last days of Kwanzaa, those connecting with friends and family won’t get cut short," according to a Zoom news release.

Here are the times and days Zoom will be allowing unlimited video calls:

  • 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

FILE - A family sits for shiva, a traditional Jewish time of mourning for the dead on April 11, 2020 in New Canaan, Connecticut.

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The company, which has become a staple of communication since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, advised users to practice extra caution for unwanted "Zoom bombings," and gave tips on how to add a festive background to video to boost the holiday spirit for those who are homebound.

The holidays are wreathed in danger for those who travel and may spread the virus — and those who don't and may suffer from isolation. Small gifts of normalcy, like in-person schooling and indoor dining, are being interrupted again.

"We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it’s not going to be easy," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious-disease expert, was saying as early as September.

More than 1 million people have passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints over the weekend in a sign that public health pleas to avoid holiday travel are being ignored, despite an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases.

In a bid to encourage social distancing during the holiday season, virtual visits with Santa Claus are becoming the new norm.

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Companies such as HouseParty and WhatsApp, which have been around for some time, are getting new attention as more and more people utilize the apps to remain in contact while also having fun with friends and family who are far away.