Boris Johnson is expected to announce a national lockdown next week after his scientific advisers told him it was the only way to save Christmas.
A Cabinet source said that the dramatic move will be announced next week.
It was not clear exactly what form the new lockdown would take, or what would be ordered to close or how long it would last.
But it is likely that all non essential shops will close and schools will remain open as usual according to The Times.
The Government now faces a critical weekend to determine the shape of the measures before an announcement on Monday.