Tesco has apologised after one of its stores mistakenly prevented customers from buying sanitary products as part of new lockdown measures in Wales.
On Sunday, first minister Mark Drakeford said supermarkets have “discretion” over the ban on selling non-essential items during the nation’s firebreak lockdown.
But on Monday, customers seeking sanitary products in St Mellons, Cardiff, said they found the pharmaceuticals area of the store blocked off.
“I’m literally raging and in tears @Tesco how the hell is beer essential and PERIOD PRODUCTS are non-essential… this is RIDICULOUS,” tweeted @nicholasmith6.
When another customer sent a tweet to the company about the issue, it responded: “We understand how frustrating these changes will be for our Welsh customers.
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 @piersmorgan pic.twitter.com/3ZK8pPsD92
— Nichola-Louise 💞🏴💞 (@nicholasmith6) October 26, 2020
“However, we have been told by the Welsh government not to sell these items for the duration of the firebreak lockdown.”
Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething later addressed the issue at the start of his coronavirus press conference, saying it was “simply wrong”.
The Welsh government had earlier corrected Tesco, tweeting: “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.”
The company has now apologised, adding that the issue was localised to one store and is being urgently rectified.
It also claimed that the pharmaceuticals area of the St Mellons store was actually cordoned off due to a break-in.
“Of course sanitary products are essential items and are available to customers in all of our stores, including those in Wales,” a Tesco spokesperson said.
“Due to a break-in, this area was closed temporarily in one store for a police investigation, but is now open again.
“The reply to this customer, which implied these products were non-essential, was sent by mistake and we’re very sorry for any confusion caused.”
The new restrictions in Wales, which began at 6pm on Friday and will end on November 9, mean non-essential retailers including clothes shops, furniture stores and car dealerships must close.
Shops selling multiple types of product can stay open but only sell essential items – which, according to the Welsh government’s website, include those that “would normally be sold in pharmacies and chemists”.
Gething, speaking at Wales’ coronavirus press conference, said Tesco had made an “incorrect reading of the both the regulations and the guidance and I’m very sorry this woman was given this information”.
He said items “that other high street shops which are currently closed can’t sell at the moment” won’t be available in supermarkets.
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