Italian tenor causes surprise in Italy by attacking his government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli has caused surprise and controversy in Italy by saying that he felt "humiliated and offended" by the nationwide lockdown due to the country's covid-19 crisis, and urging people to disobey the rules.
The celebrated tenor was speaking at a conference in Rome on 27 July, attended by opposition politicians including the leader of the right-wing Lega party Matteo Salvini, and co-organised by the outspoken lower house deputy Vittorio Sgarbi who claims that "the virus is gone."
Claiming he was "far from politics," Bocelli said that he does not believe the pandemic was as bad as the Italian government claimed because he did not personally know anyone admitted to intensive care due to the virus.
"So why this gravity?" he asked.
"I do not think it was right or healthy to stay home at my age" - the 61-year-old singer said - "I felt humiliated and offended by the ban on leaving home. I admit that I violated the ban."
The blind singer also appeared to encourage others to break the mask-wearing and social distancing rules, saying: “Let’s refuse to follow this rule. Let’s read books, move around, get to know each other, talk, dialogue ...,” he said.
Bocelli's comments came as a surprise in Italy - where more than 35,000 Italians have died from the coronavirus - after the tenor became a symbol of unity when he sang in an empty Duomo in Milan during a live-streamed Easter concert called Music for Hope, watched by an estimated three million people around the world.
Massimo Galli, head of the Infectious Diseases Unit at the Luigi Sacco Hospital in Milan, told Italian news agency ANSA that the conference projected an "inadequate, dangerous" message with "no scientific basis."
On 26 May Bocelli told journalists that he donated blood plasma after saying he had been infected by the coronavirus with mild symptoms, a slight fever, and was "practically asymptomatic," reported ANSA at the time.
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