AS politicians and health experts talk about a 'circuit breaker' lockdown to halt the spread of coronavirus the question to which nobody quite knows the answer is what that would involve?

Two things are almost certain - any new measures would be initially for two weeks and they would apply region-wide.

So a North-West 'circuit breaker' would cover Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria rather than individual local authorities.

The measures would be aimed at what has been identified as the main drivers of the rise in the virus - transmission in and between households through family, friends and other social gatherings.

The most extreme version can be seen in a leaked plan drawn up by the Scottish Government experts,

Its includes:

* School closures;

* Remote learning only at universities and colleges;

* Closure of all hospitality for two weeks;

* Stay At Home messaging returning;

* Potential five or 30 mile travel restrictions;

* Closure of entertainment venues;

* No visitor attractions; and

* No personal retail services such as hairdressers, beauty salons or driving lessons.

The UK government is keen to see schools and most workplaces stay open and there is little evidence at the moment that major outbreaks in either is driving the rise in Covid-19 infections.

So schools may be exempt and businesses where close contact is not necessary or widespread could avoid closure although the level of inspection for the implementation of Covid-safe practices may increase.

That will be linked to request for those who can work from home, particularly office staff, to do so.

The social lockdown option involving no household mixing indoors or outdoors is definitely on the cards putting the 'Rule of Six' in abeyance.

That would end visits to relatives in care homes, to accompany hospital patients and a stricter definition of household 'bubbles'.

It is also likely to see stricter restrictions on all but essential travel outside residents immediate area and possibly on exercise and non-essential shops.

It is thought any North-West circuit breaker could be timed for the half-term period at the end of October to limit further disruption to schools.

New measures could see the closing or regulating of pubs, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities with one possibility seeing either a total closure or staggered closing times in city centres while smaller town centres without the same concentration of licensed premises were exempt.

But the fear is that would only see customers driving out to areas with looser rules.

The idea of a circuit breaker lockdown is to reduce the spread of new infections without needing to go into a second full lockdown.

And as Blackburn with Darwen Council's public health director and his Lancashire counterpart Dr Sakthi Karunanithi have made clear, the only way to avoid a circuit breaker or a full national or regional lockdown is to obey the current rules so the rise in coronavirus infections reverses before government ministers feel they have to take decisive action.