Legendary opera tenor Andrea Bocelli, who survived COVID-19 this spring, suffers a major backlash in Italy after saying the coronavirus lockdown made him feel “humiliated and offended” by depriving him of his personal autonomy to come and go as he pleases.
Bocelli spoke at a panel in the Italian Senate on Monday, where he was introduced by right-wing opposition leader Matteo Salvini, who denounced the government’s strict measures to fight the epidemic.
The singer’s announcement in May that he had recovered from the virus came weeks after his Easter Sunday performance at Milan’s empty cathedral. At the time, Bocelli said that when he learned on March 10 that he had tested positive, just as the nation was going into lockdown, “I jumped in the pool, I felt good. And only had a slight fever. He was apparently referring to a private pool in his residence, as the public gym pools were closed at the time.
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The Grammy-nominated international star told the Italian Senate conference he was unhappy that he could not leave his home even though he “had not committed any crime” and revealed, without providing details, that he had violated this locking restriction.
At the height of the lockdown, Italians could only leave their homes to go to essential jobs, walk dogs or buy food or medicine.
Appalled, Health Ministry Under-Secretary Pierpaolo Sileri said on Tuesday that Bocelli “perhaps wanted to express the annoyance of every Italian who, due to the lockdown, was staying at home.”
“I wouldn’t have said those words, but I imagine he can explain it one way or another,” Sileri added.
The conference was held on the eve of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s appearance in the Senate, scheduled for later Tuesday, where he was to set out the arguments of his center-left government in favor of extending the state of emergency. for the pandemic, which expires on July 31.
The status of emergency allowed Conte to bypass Parliament or even his cabinet by enacting a series of measures aimed at slowing the spread of the epidemic in the country where it first appeared in Europe, and would continue to do so. more than 35,000 dead.
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Bocelli told the conference that at first his children told him to watch out for the virus when he began to doubt its severity.
“But over time, I know a lot of people, but I didn’t know anyone who went to intensive care,” he said.
At the worst time of the epidemic, as many as 4,000 people were in intensive care in Italy, a country of 60 million people, with several hundred deaths linked to the virus on certain days.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.