Before the clock could even click toward midnight on Dec. 15, the original deadline for signing up for 2017 Obamacare policies that will take effect on Jan. 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today extended the cutoff date to Monday, Dec. 19, at midnight.

“Millions of Americans have already signed up for coverage and tens of thousands more are in the process of getting coverage today,” Kevin Counihan, CEO of the Health Insurance Marketplace, said in a statement, adding that the marketplace had seen an “extraordinary volume of consumers contacting our call center or visiting”

Even before enrollment commenced on Nov. 1, the department announced a provision for those whose policies were being abruptly canceled this year to enroll by Dec. 31 to avoid a lapse in coverage and any tax penalties that may ensue.

Enrollment will continue after Dec. 19, but the policies issued after that date will not start on Jan. 1 and could pose a tax liability.