Coronavirus restrictions are to be further tightened in parts of England early next week, with the closure of bars and restaurants a possibility.
There could also be a ban on overnight stays away from home in some areas.
A final decision on the time period or extent of potential closures has not yet been made.
The government is also likely to introduce a three-tier system for local lockdowns.
Under the system, different parts of the country would be placed in different categories – although ministers are still discussing the precise details of the toughest level of restrictions over the next couple of days.
A formal announcement is not likely to come until Monday.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the government was “currently considering what steps to take” and the precise measures for different areas would be announced “in the coming days”.
He did not rule out the possibility of pubs being closed but said measures would be “proportionate and localized”.
He added that the government was trying to give “greater consistency on rules so that they’re easier to understand” and was working on “slightly broader canvases of regions or cities and counties to avoid differences in people’s daily lives if they drive over the border”. It comes as significant new measures are introduced in Scotland.
From Friday, all pubs and restaurants across central Scotland, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, are to close, while in the rest of Scotland hospitality venues must shut at 18:00 BST and alcohol can only be served outdoors.
Industry leaders are warning the measures could be the final straw for many businesses.