But he would not rule out a return to lockdown, saying: “I wouldn’t make a vow like that.
Speaking to LBC on Wednesday morning, Mr Hancock said: “Our goal is to avoid having to do anything more drastic by people following the rules.”
The Health Secretary has broken with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s assurances that the UK will not lock down a second time, saying he “wouldn’t make a vow like that”
But he added he “hoped” lockdown could be avoided, saying: “The number of cases is largely driven by people socialising.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out a second coronavirus lockdown, despite assurances by the Prime Minister.
“You wouldn’t expect me to – I am the Health Secretary in the middle of a pandemic where we are trying to keep the country safe.”
Current guidelines limit most outdoor gatherings to either six people, and no more than two household bubbles if meeting indoors.
On Tuesday it was announced that gatherings of more than six people will become illegal in England from September 14.
Mr Hancock’s comments come ahead of a hastily-arranged Downing Street press conference in which Boris Johnson will explain the details of the latest social distancing measures.
The higher limit of 30 attendees is only for community events or ceremonies such as weddings.
In comments released ahead of Wednesday’s press conference, Mr Johnson said: “We need to act now to stop the virus spreading. So we are simplifying and strengthening the rules on social contact – making them easier to understand and for the police to enforce.”
From Monday the default maximum will be reduced to six, making it easier for police to identify and disperse illegal gatherings.
Police have had no power to stop gatherings of up to 30 before now, and politicians believe the limit has been widely abused across the UK.
The emergency policy is an attempt to control the virus as multiple areas around the country struggle with serious outbreaks, sparking fears of a second wave this autumn.
Last month it was reported that Mr Johnson had ordered officials to devise a plan to avoid a second national lockdown, including asking the elderly to shield and putting London back into lockdown.
Close to 8,500 positive tests have been recorded in England in the last three days.