By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — As health officials urge Americans not to travel home for the holidays, Zoom said it was removing the time limit for meetings on free accounts during certain holidays this year.

“COVID-19 has changed how we live, work, and celebrate in 2020, and like everything else this year, the holiday season doesn’t look the same,” the video-conferencing company said in a blogpost. “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.”

Whether celebrating the last day of Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, or even the last days of Kwaanza, Zoom promised “those connecting with friends and family won’t get cut short.”

The dates and times for the free unlimited meetings are from 10 a.m. ET on Dec. 17 to 6 a.m. ET on Dec. 19, from 10 a.m. ET on Dec. 23 to 6 a.m. ET on Dec. 26, and then from 10 a.m. ET on Dec. 30 to 6 a.m. ET on Jan. 2.

The company said users don’t need to do anything to remove the time limits; it will be automatically lifted during those times.

It recommended families protect from uninvited guests by using a passcode or enabling waiting rooms. The company also suggested using festive virtual backgrounds.

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