Whanganui grandmother counting down days to alert level 2 to be reunited with grandchild

A Whanganui grandmother is eagerly awaiting the arrival of alert level 2 so she can see her grandchild again.

Although police have a warning for those thinking about popping their regional bubble, that isn't stopping Margi Keys from planning her travel up the North Island to see her grandchild.

Photos have been sent to her daily from Auckland to Whanganui, and the video calls have been constant. Now the countdown is on.

"I'm really, really excited. Like I said, I probably won't be able to sleep tonight. I am really thrilled," she says.

Keys has felt every one of the 400 kilometres between her and little Albie, and the minute level 3 lifts, she'll be off.

"I'm going to go as soon as I can," she says.

As the invisible barriers between regions drop down on Thursday, she will be one of thousands to fill the highways once more.

But the police are warning people not to take their excitement out in their speed. With a significant increase in traffic expected in level 2, they're reminding motorists to be patient and never get behind the wheel if you're under the influence or tired. 

Of course not everyone will get the fairytale reunion they're after with the elderly still among the most vulnerable.

The Aged Care Association says until COVID-19 is out of all rest homes, it will make access to visitors "quite strict". That includes limiting visiting hours to just one visitor at a time and no more than two designated loved ones per resident. The length of a visit will, in most cases, be limited to half an hour, and face masks should be worn.

"Family will need to make an appointment, because there's going to be a lot of people wanting to visit their loved ones. They haven't seen them for seven weeks," Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace says.

And if absence really does make the heart grow fonder, it looks like hearts and bubbles are about to burst with happiness.