A U.K. supermarket chain has come under fire after a woman complained she was told she couldn’t buy sanitary pads in Wales due to a ban on selling “nonessential” items during the coronavirus lockdown, according to reports.
“@Tesco can you explain why I was told today that I can’t buy PERIOD PADS as I’m sure they are essential to women ?!!! But I can buy alcohol it doesn’t make sense,” the enraged shopper posted on Twitter as “Katie.”
The supermarket giant apologized to the woman, initially saying it could not sell sanitary pads and tampons from its store in Cardiff, the BBC reported.
“We understand how frustrating these changes will be for our Welsh customers. However, we have been told by the Welsh government not to sell these items for the duration of the firebreak lockdown,” it said, using the term used to describe the national effort to slow the bug’s spread.
Tesco later deleted the tweet and issued a mea culpa, The Guardian reported.
“Of course sanitary products are essential items and are available to customers in all of our stores, including those in Wales. The reply to this customer was sent by mistake and we’re very sorry for any confusion caused,” it said.
The store in question had cordoned off an area due to a burglary, leading to the confusion, Tesco said, adding that its deleted tweet was a standard response from its customer services team when responding to questions about nonessential items.
A South Wales police spokesman said: “Police in Cardiff are investigating a burglary of the Tesco supermarket in St. Mellons, which happened between 2.30 am and 4.30 am this morning (Mon), where an estimated £20,000 worth of beauty products was stolen.
“Stolen items predominantly include makeup as well as electric toothbrushes and razors,” the rep added, according to The Sun.
The Welsh government confirmed that period products did not fall under the ban.
“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,” it said.
Before the matter was resolved, women expressed their outrage over the incident.
“I’m literally Raging & in tears @Tesco how the hell is beer essential and PERIOD PRODUCTS are Non essential!!!! @WelshGovernment this is RIDICULOUS #walesinlockdown #coronavirus,” user Nichola-Louise tweeted.
The Welsh government has banned the sale of nonessential items in supermarkets during the 17-day lockdown – but opposition parties have called that “absolute madness” and insisted that better communication was needed with stores, the BBC reported.
On Monday, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said supermarkets would now be able to use “some discretion” in selling nonessential items – like electrical goods, phones, clothes, toys and garden products – to those in “genuine need.”
The policy has been slammed in a petition signed by more than 60,000 people.
“I was very saddened to see this particular exchange on social media this morning from a supermarket telling a woman she could not buy period products. This is simply wrong,” Gething said at a press conference, The Guardian reported.
“It’s an incorrect reading of the regulations and guidance. I am very sorry that this woman was given this information. Supermarkets are open and trading, as are many other shops, and are able to sell a wide range of everyday items that we all need,” he added.