Amid a surge in COVID cases, France has rolled out a health pass, which is mandatory to enter most public places in the country. 

From today, all those wanting to visit museums, cinemas, sports matches, and other cultural venues will have to show proof of vaccination against the virus, a negative test, or recent recovery from the virus. Its use could be extended for entry to cafes, restaurants and shopping malls in the country.

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This decision comes after French Health Minister Olivier Veran said that new infections were increasing at an unprecedented rate due to the Delta variant. Over 18,000 cases were reported in the country on Monday.

Referring to these figures, Veran said on Tuesday, "That means we have an increase in the spread of the virus of around 150 percent in the last week: we've never seen that, neither with Covid [the original form], nor the British variant, nor the South African or the Brazilian one."

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The level of infections is the highest since mid-May. The country has been racing to get as many people vaccinated as possible before the emergence of the fourth wave. 

Veran said the new figures showed that "this is no time for doubts and hesitation" and that achieving herd immunity through vaccine coverage is "the only way we have ...of getting rid of COVID once and for all."

The government has come up with a set of new rules aimed at pressuring millions into getting a jab, since only 45% of the population is fully vaccinated. This angered sections of French society, who believe that President Emmanuel Macron's plan infringes on the freedom of choice of those who are not willing to get vaccinated for the virus. 

Over 100,000 people also protested across the country on Saturday against what they called the country's vaccine "dictatorship."