Andrea Bocelli recently spoke out in opposition to Italy’s lockdown measures amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I felt humiliated and offended,” the 61-year-old Italian tenor said during a Monday conference in Italy’s Senate, according to BBC. “I could not leave the house even though I had committed no crime.” 

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In his speech, delivered in Italian, the singer said he disobeyed lockdown rules. Italy’s strict nationwide lockdown began on March 9 and lasted for almost three months before gradually easing, according to The Local, an English-language news network in Europe. 

“I did not think it was right or healthy to stay home at my age,” Bocelli said. “I am a certain age, and I need sun and vitamin D.”

Bocelli announced in May that he had tested positive for the virus in March, along with his wife and two sons. But in his recent speech, the tenor said he didn’t know anyone who was admitted to intensive care because of the virus and that he believed the outbreak had been exaggerated, BBC reported. 

Although Italy’s lockdown measures have since eased, face masks remain mandatory on public transport and in shops, and social distancing of three feet is required in public, according to BBC.

In his speech, Bocelli said Italian citizens should be able to break these guidelines, The Local reported. 

“Let’s refuse to follow this rule,” he said. “Let’s read books, move around, get to know each other, talk, dialogue.” 

Bocelli, who has an 8-year-old daughter with his wife and manager, Veronica Berti, also criticized the Italian government’s approach to reopening schools, according to BBC

Andrea Bocelli performs at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018.
Andrea Bocelli performs at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. Bocelli recently spoke out in opposition to Italy’s lockdown measures amid the coronavirus pandemic. | Qiling Wang, Deseret News

“It’s unthinkable that these children will have to go to school divided by a piece of plexiglass and hidden behind a mask,” he said. “It’s unthinkable that schools were closed so quickly, and with the same speed nightclubs were reopened, where young people go not to learn, but to disperse their brains.”

Bocelli’s recent comments provoked criticism from science experts, celebrities and public figures in Italy. On Tuesday, the hashtag #BocelliVergognati (Bocelli be ashamed of yourself) was trending on Twitter in Italy, according to The Local

The tenor has since stated that his comments were “misunderstood,” BBC reported. The singer issued an apology on Wednesday in a Facebook video.

“The intent of my speech to the Italian Senate was to send a message of hope for a near future in which — children first and foremost — can find again a sense of normality and can hope to live ‘as children,’ playing with and hugging one another, as they should at their age, and to be able to grow up happy and healthy,” he said via Facebook Translation.

“It was not my intention to offend those who have been struck by COVID,” he continued, according to Yahoo Money. “To all those people who felt offended or suffered because of how I expressed myself — undoubtedly not in the best possible way — and the words I used, I ask that they accept my sincerest apologies, as my intention was quite the opposite.”

Over the past months, Bocelli has been actively involved in COVID-19 relief, establishing a GoFundMe campaign to help hospitals and donating his blood to contribute to COVID-19 research, the Deseret News previously reported. 

On Easter Sunday, Bocelli performed a “Music for Hope” recital, offering it as a prayer to the “wounded Earth,” according to the Deseret News. A week later, the tenor joined Lady Gaga’s “One World: Together at Home” — a virtual music festival that raised nearly $128 million for COVID-19 relief.