Tesco apologized after it claimed sanitary products were 'non-essential' and therefore not for sale during lockdown

  • A Tesco branch refused to sell sanitary products to customers on Monday, with the retailer claiming the items were "non-essential" and therefore off-limits during the country's strict lockdown.
  • The Welsh government has told retailers selling non-essential items to close, and ordered supermarkets to block off aisles selling non-essential products.
  • The healthcare aisle of one Tesco branch near Cardiff had been cordoned off, and a customer was told by Tesco staff that she couldn't buy sanitary products.
  • Tesco then tweeted: "We have been told by the Welsh Government not to sell these items for the duration of the firebreak lockdown."
  • Tesco later apologized for the mistake, and said it had cordoned the aisle off because of a burglary.
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A branch of British grocery giant Tesco near Cardiff, Wales, refused to sell sanitary products to customers on Monday, claiming they were "non-essential" goods.

The retailer initially doubled down on the refusal, tweeting that it had been told by the Welsh government not to sell sanitary products during lockdown. But it later deleted the tweet and apologized.

The Welsh government has issued a 17-day "firebreak" lockdown that bans the sale of non-essential items including clothing, homeware, electronics, and toys. Grocery stores have to close down the parts of their shops selling non-essential items. 

One customer tweeted Monday that she was "raging and in tears" after being unable to access the products at Tesco's St Mellons store, near Cardiff, which were in a cordoned-off aisle.

Her daughter added that Tesco staff warned they couldn't buy the products.

Tesco, which is Britain's biggest retailer, responded by tweeting: "We have been told by the Welsh Government not to sell these items for the duration of the firebreak lockdown."

Tesco has since deleted this Tweet.

The Welsh Government then stepped in, tweeting: "This is wrong — period products are essential."

The supermarket later said that particular aisle of the store had been cordoned off because of a burglary of beauty products, which was confirmed by South Wales Police.

Tesco said the Tweet from its account "was sent by mistake," and apologized.

"Of course sanitary products are essential items and are available to customers in all of our stores, including those in Wales," it said. "The reply to this customer was sent by mistake and we're very sorry for any confusion caused."

The Welsh government has been criticized by both residents and businesses for the non-essential products policy, and more than 60,000 people have signed a petition asking them to overturn the rule, calling it "disproportionate and cruel."

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