Zoom is lifting limits on the free version of its videoconferencing software over the festive season to help families around the world socialise safely in the midst of the pandemic.
Normally, free accounts are limited to 40-minute-long calls, which abruptly end at the time limit. Zoom has announced that those limits will be removed for two weeks including the last day of Hanukah, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The company said: “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 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.”
The announcement was welcomed by health experts who have been pushing for gatherings to remain socially distanced despite the UK government relaxing restrictions over the period.
“I hope it is an example that others will follow,” said Stephen Reicher, a professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews. “The message is very simple: meeting over Christmas is a risk to you, your family and your community. It will be a gift to the virus, because a crowded Christmas dinner table is the ideal condition for transmission, but if anyone were to fall ill it would be just about the worst present we could give to each other.