The Government has temporarily closed down a High Commission and an embassy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and warned that more closures could be on the way.

New Zealand's High Commission in Barbados' capital Bridgetown and the NZ Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, have been closed due to the increasing scarcity of flights to those cities.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the move was also made in response to the pressure that Covid-19 is putting on the local health systems of those countries.

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Although only two diplomatic posts were temporarily closed, Peters had a warning for other High Commissions and embassies around the world.

"With the rapidly changing health, safety and security situation for staff overseas due to Covid-19, we cannot rule out other temporary closures as a result of the pandemic."

Foreign Minister Winston Peters. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Foreign Minister Winston Peters. Photo / Mark Mitchell

But he said it was the Government's intention to keep the "vast majority" of New Zealand's 62 diplomatic posts open.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) will temporarily withdraw those stationed in Bridgetown and Yangon, and their families, and bring them back to New Zealand.

Those staff, according to Peters, will be working on Mfat's Covid-19 response plan from Wellington.

The High Commission in Barbados is closed as of today, and the NZ Embassy in Yangon will close tomorrow.

The temporary closure of these diplomatic posts will be reviewed in a month's time but Peters said the Government is actively working to sustain its network around the globe.

"We advise all New Zealanders to cancel their overseas travel plans at this time."

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Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Peters' comments come just days after he told the near 100,000 Kiwis travelling overseas at the moment to come back to New Zealand before it's too late.

"If you're travelling it's very likely you could be shut off very shortly," Peters said today.
"If you can get home, come home now."

On Thursday night in an "unprecedented move," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Government had closed New Zealand's borders to any non-resident or non-citizen.

She said this was the first time in New Zealand's history this has been done.