PM Boris Johnson is set to announce a second national lockdown for England as the UK passed one million Covid-19 cases.
Non-essential shops and hospitality will have to close for a month, sources told the BBC.
But unlike the restriction in the spring, schools and colleges are to be allowed to stay open.
It comes as documents suggested the UK was on course for a much higher death toll than during the first wave.
The lockdown is also expected to include restrictions on travel and is due to come into force on Thursday, lasting until 2 December, BBC political correspondent Nick Eardley said.
The prime minister is due to lead a news conference later, after holding a cabinet meeting to discuss the coronavirus response.
He is set to be joined by England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance for the briefing.