Boris Johnson is expected to approve plans to force some travellers arriving to the UK to quarantine in hotels to limit the spread of new coronavirus variants.
The prime minister will discuss the proposals with senior ministers on Tuesday before a final decision is made at a meeting of the Covid-O meeting.
Various options are said to be on the table, but Whitehall sources suggested ministers may opt for a more limited system after aviation leaders warned introducing tougher border rules would be “catastrophic” for the industry.
The officials said a less sweeping option would apply only to British residents returning from countries with more contagious variants – such as Brazil, South Africa and Portugal.
It comes after health secretary Matt Hancock warned the NHS is “stretched to the limit” as the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care and on ventilation has reached the highest level of the pandemic so far.