Hancock told Sky News there might be a “workaround” for some businesses on the two metre rule, such as cafes, as evidence shows that the spread of the virus is much lower outdoors.
The comment came in response to a question about the two-metre distancing rule, and how possible it was to maintain in small businesses such as cafes.
Hancock said the business secretary was working on the rules for safe working in such businesses, and promised more details “very shortly”.
He said: “We’re very careful to follow the clinical advice on the two-metre rule, but there’s also very strong evidence that outdoors the spread is much, much lower so there may be workarounds that some businesses, for instance cafes especially over the summer, might be able to put into place.”
The comments will raise questions over whether pubs or even restaurants with outside spaces could reopen in some capacity.
Greene King boss Nick Mackenzie said at the weekend he would look to open pub beer gardens initially, with customers ordering pints on their phones.
Mackenzie told The Sunday Times reopening could see safety measures such as facemasks for staff, plastic screens and extra space between tables.
He said: “It’s actually harder to open than to close. We’re asking for at least three weeks’ notice before we open, to get stock in pubs and get our people off furlough.
He added: “The challenge we have is making sure measures don’t take away the point of a pub, which is socialising.”