After six weeks afloat off coast, Israeli finally granted entry to Jamaica
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After six weeks afloat off coast, Israeli finally granted entry to Jamaica

Coronavirus lockdown stranded Amit Mendel on his small sailing boat after he crossed the ocean to get to island nation; now seeking visa to reach US

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israeli sailor Amit Mendel, who was denied entry to Jamaica due to a coronavirus lockdown, undated, 2020. (Kan screenshot)
Israeli sailor Amit Mendel, who was denied entry to Jamaica due to a coronavirus lockdown, undated, 2020. (Kan screenshot)

An Israeli man who spent six weeks on a small sailing boat off the coast of Jamaica after he was denied permission to dock due to a coronavirus lockdown has finally been granted entry to the island, according to a report Sunday.

After reaching dry land, Amit Mendel moved into an apartment that had been rented on his behalf and was seeking a visa to travel to the US, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

Mendel arrived in the area some time in January after sailing across the ocean, but found the region already under lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak (the report did not say where Mendel began his cruise).

He was refused entry to Cuba and the Dominican Republic before finally heading to Jamaica, where he was again told he could not dock. He remained just off the shore, with Jamaican authorities providing him with supplies by boat.

To make matters worse, Mendel had traveled with an Italian man and tensions had developed between them, to the point that the Israeli feared sailing anywhere else as it would leave him alone at sea with the man.

In an earlier Kan report last week about Mendel’s plight, when he was still trapped on the boat, his mother Aliza said she feared for her son’s life. In videos he sent from the boat he often appeared strained and despondent.

Mendel decided to stay put as his parents back in Israel sought diplomatic help for their son. Israel’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Daniel Biran Bayor, became involved and in the past few days Jamaican authorities allowed Mendel to come ashore.

As the coronavirus spread around the world from China in the first three months of the year many countries, including Israel, began applying restrictions on arriving travelers to the point when some countries banned all entry to non-nationals, or required those who do arrive, whether visitors or nationals, to enter weeks of quarantine.

As of Monday, across the globe there have been 4,215,302 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and 284,672 have died. Israel has had 16,492 confirmed cases with 254 deaths.

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