As Wales entered its 17-day Coronavirus ‘firebreak’ lockdown, they implemented a ban on supermarkets selling ‘non-essential items’ in an attempt to restrict the amount of time customers are spending in shops. But since then, more than 34,000 people have signed a petition to reverse the ban, describing it as ‘disproportionate and cruel’, which has prompted the Welsh government to order a review into the ban.
But Tesco has now come under fire for branding period products as ‘non-essential’, with images of pads and tampons behind metal gates circulating on social media.
‘@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,’ wrote customer Katie on Twitter.
In a now-deleted response, Tesco’s official Twitter account replied: ‘We have been told by the Welsh government not to sell these items for the duration of the firebreak lockdown’, to which the Welsh government responded with: ‘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.’
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Tesco have since apologised for the incorrect response, saying: ‘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,’ adding that they’ll be looking into the complaint further.
The ban has caused widespread outrage, with many taking to social media to express their disappointment with both Tesco and the Welsh government’s ‘unfair’ ban on non-essential items.
‘In 17 days how many girls will have periods? How many pregnant women will have a miscarriage and need pads? How many pregnant women will need liners?’ shared one user, while another added: ‘Are there literally no women who work in Tesco?’.
GLAMOUR has approached Tesco for comment.
Jane Clancey, Director of Communications, Advocacy and UK Programmes at Plan International UK, said of the move: “We are extremely concerned about reports that period products are not being deemed an ‘essential’ item in every store under the latest Welsh lockdown. While it’s good to hear this will now be addressed, it’s yet another stark example of periods being misunderstood and overlooked. We must be clear – period products are as essential as toilet roll.
“Sadly, this is not a new issue. During the UK-wide lockdown earlier this year, our research showed that three in ten girls struggled to afford or access period products, and over half (54%) of these girls resorted to using toilet paper as an alternative.
“As lockdowns continue to be enforced and we look to an uncertain future, many more families will face tough financial choices, and more young women than ever are likely to face issues accessing the products they need. We must commit to ensuring they are supported with unrestricted access to products, receive timely education on periods and feel able to talk about the issues they face without fear of shame or stigma.”