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Sydney, Australia - Australian carrier Qantas Airways was criticized over an Easter weekend flight on which almost every seat was occupied although social distancing is an essential measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

An image of the packed Qantas' plane cabin went viral on social media amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Skeptics blamed the airline for disregarding social distancing efforts in the fight against pandemic.

On April 13, Qantas flight QF755 traveled from Townsville to Brisbane. A frustrated Twitter user, who claimed to be an economy class passenger, shared a photo of the full flight to the platform and wondered why the Australian-flag carrying airline had not enforced greater social distancing measures on the domestic flight.

The post has since caused a stir with nearly 500 shares and hundreds of comments. Many users echoed similar sentiments, wondering why passengers had not been required to wear masks or why Qantas did not leave the middle row of seats empty to create space between travelers.
In response, a spokesperson for the carrier has since confirmed that “some flights were busier” over the holiday weekend, like Monday’s flight QF755. Moving forward, formal social distancing measures are now being enforced on Qantas flights, they said.

“The average load factors on our aircraft have been very low, with most flights around 30 percent full, so social distancing has been happening by default,” a spokesperson for the airline told Fox News on Wednesday. “The weekend saw some flights that were busier, which was the case on this particular flight.”

“As a result, we have introduced formal social distancing, this means customers will be seated at the window or aisle with the middle seat remaining vacant,”

they added.

Amid the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the Australian Government Department of Health has instructed people to keep about 5 feet (1.5 meters) apart from others in public, stay home beyond “absolutely essential” needs.

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