(Rome) A man attacked Giuseppe Conte, the head of the Italian government during the COVID-19 pandemic, on Friday, accusing him of confinement and wearing a mask, his movement announced.

While in Massa, Tuscany (Central West) to take part in an electoral rally, the leader of the 5 Star Movement (M5S) “was attacked by an antivax activist” who punched him in the face while insulting him, wrote the M5S on Facebook.

The man blamed him for the introduction of confinement and physical distancing measures from 2020, according to testimonies quoted in the media.

An amateur video broadcast on the media website fanpage.it shows a man in the crowd approaching Mr. Conte, now a deputy, and slapping him before being attacked and driven away.

The attacker, identified by the Ansa news agency as Giulio Milani, 52, publisher and co-founder of a local committee for “the free choice of parents in the vaccination of children”, was then taken away by the forces of order, according to the Italian press.

“The protest is legitimate, but this violent demonstration is outside the democratic framework,” commented Giuseppe Conte.

The current head of government, Giorgia Meloni, expressed her “solidarity” in a press release. “Any form of violence must be condemned without hesitation. The opposition must remain cordial and respectful of individuals and political groups.”

President of the Italian Council from June 2018 to February 2021, Giuseppe Conte had to manage the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020 in northern Italy, the first country in Europe affected.

It killed nearly 190,000 people there, according to the Ministry of Health.

Mr. Conte has put in place a drastic containment system and imposed the wearing of a mask. These measures had severely limited the movement of Italians for months, forced many workers to stay at home and plunged Italy into economic slump.

Mr. Conte is nevertheless under investigation for possible negligence. The public prosecutor’s office in Bergamo, a city in Lombardy (North), suspects him and other members of his government of having underestimated the spread of the virus.