It makes limited sense for malls to be open until the coronavirus pandemic passes. People are not supposed to gather in groups, and social distancing requires people to stay six feet apart, which could be a challenge at a mall.

Because of this, Simon Property Group (SPG -0.77%) has decided to close all of its malls. The shutdown began at 7 p.m. on March 18, and it affects Simon's malls, outlets, and mills in the United States. The closures are scheduled to end on March 29.

A mall food court.

Malls are places where people gather, and that's a bad idea at the moment. Image source: Getty Images.

Why is Simon doing this?

Simon has made this choice because it's in line with what the U.S. government has recommended. People are supposed to avoid congregating in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"The health and safety of our shoppers, retailers, and employees is of paramount importance, and we are taking this step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities," said Simon CEO David Simon.

Malls generally sell discretionary goods, which aren't as crucial to day-to-day life. People need food, cleaning supplies, and other items that help them get through an extended period of being stuck at home. Malls simply don't meet those needs.

This is the right call

If Simon's malls were open, people would likely go there. That's because some people are downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus, which puts other people at risk.

Deciding to close was not an easy situation. This will cost Simon business, but closing is in the public interest.