Birmingham's move to tier three Covid-19 restrictions "would seem to be inevitable" but is not imminent, the council leader has said.
Ian Ward said his assessment was based on the "rising case rate" in the city.
His comments followed a meeting with the leader of neighbouring West Midlands authorities about stepping up to the "very high" risk category.
The majority of the region is currently subject to the tier two "high risk" restrictions.
In Birmingham, the rate of coronavirus per 100,000 people stands at 270.9 as of 25 October, up from 227.6 in the seven days prior.
That compares with a rate of 684.5 in Oldham, Greater Manchester, which moved to tier three last week.
Nottinghamshire will move into tier three on Friday. There is a rate of 451.5 in Nottingham.
Mr Ward said in addition to his counterparts in nearby authority areas, conversations were also continuing with MPs and public health officials on a daily basis.
"We don't want imposition [of tier three] without negotiation," he said.
"But I have certainly not said that we are going into tier three imminently. That's not currently the case."
Tier three means pubs and bars not serving substantial meals have to close, while household mixing is banned indoors and outdoors in hospitality settings and private gardens.
Betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres and soft play areas would also have to close, while there is guidance against travelling in or out of the area.
Andy Street, mayor for the West Midlands, said the region's hospitals were "now coming under intense pressure" and it was not a "sustainable situation".
He said unless infection rates fell, further action would be needed, but echoed Mr Ward in saying "no decision has yet been made".
He added: "I know many will question why there is talk of tier three despite our current rate of infection being lower than those in other parts of the country when they entered the highest tier of restrictions.
"But if our cases continue to rise we must protect our hospitals, and by acting before our cases reach the levels seen elsewhere we have a better chance of the restrictions working."
The other council areas under the West Midlands Combined Authority include Coventry City Council, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council and City of Wolverhampton Council.
Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton are currently in tier two, while Coventry was also moved from tier one to two tier last week.
Dudley is in tier one, but is expected to be elevated to tier two by the weekend.