A row over the definition of non-essential products in Wales grew today as Tesco banned the sale of sanitary products during the “firebreak” lockdown.
One shopper said she was left distraught after being barred from picking up sanitary towels for her daughter at a store in Cardiff because they were not deemed “essential”.
After she complained about the issue on Twitter, a Tesco customer service employee replied saying the supermarket giant had been instructed by the Welsh Government not to sell such items.
The now deleted tweet read: “Hi Katie. We understand how frustrating these changes will be for out Welsh customers. However we have been told by the Welsh Government not to sell these items for the duration of the firebreak lockdown.”
But Tesco was forced to clarify its position after the Welsh Government intervened and said the supermarket’s position was wrong.
They tweeted: “This is wrong – period products are essential. Supermarkets can still sell items that can be sold in pharmacies.
“Only selling essential items during firebreak is to discourage spending more time than necessary in shops. It should not stop you accessing items that you need.”
Katie, whose mother had gone to the Cardiff superstore to pick up the sanitary products, said she was upset at by the ban after posting the complaint on Twitter.
She told the Standard: “It did upset me this morning as they are very essential to all women and I really needed them. I also found it unfair you can buy alcohol and not basic hygiene products.”
A spokesman for the supermarket later replied to the tweet, saying: “Good morning Katie – thanks for getting in touch and please accept my apologies for the confusion caused by my colleagues’ earlier reply.
“This is a response we’re using when challenged on products that we have been asked to restrict by the Welsh Government.
“However, clearly sanitary products are an essential purchase and I’m so sorry to see that one of our stores has them restricted at the moment.
“Can you please DM us to let me know when you were in store and which store this was, so I can look in to this further.”
Supermarkets have been told they can only sell “essential” items and must close parts of their stores which sell products such as clothes, shoes, toys and bedding during Wales’ 17-day “firebreak” lockdown.
The Welsh Conservatives earlier said the product rules were “mixed-messaging”.
Tesco has been approached for comment.