The number of Covid patients in intensive care went over 2,000 on Monday for the first time since May, and 278 new such cases were admitted on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Véran will hold a news conference on Thursday at 5pm “which will see an announcement that a certain number of départments are being moved to the maximum alert level,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said after Wednesday's cabinet meeting.
Being placed on maximum alert brings with it a string of restrictions such as the closure of all bars and a limit on gatherings in public places.
A curfew would also be ordered for “some of them”, Attal added.
Some 20 million French people have already been ordered to stay home every night under a curfew adopted after an alarming surge in new coronavirus cases.
A nightly curfew from 9pm to 6am went into force at the weekend in Paris and eight other French cities in response to daily new infections reaching record levels.
The government has said it did not expect the curfew to have a real impact on virus numbers before two or three weeks.
Wednesday's cabinet meeting approved a draft law extending France's state of health emergency, the legal framework for exceptional measures such as curfews, which was to expire next month, until February 2021.
The draft law will also allow the government to impose curbs on people's movements, the opening hours of bars and restaurants as well as public gatherings until April next year if necessary.
The Local will be following the Thursday announcement live, click here for the latest.