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Which word should be in the blank?

are or were?

I thought it should be 'were' but other teachers said that it should be 'are' because of the word 'recent'.

Almost all the shops located in this shopping centre _____ closed during the recent New Year period.

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    If your teachers really told you that, they are unqualified to teach you English. In other words, not only do they not understand English, but they are apparently unable even to read a dictionary! This is a very simple question. "Recent" means: Done or made in a period of the past comparatively close to the present. (OED.) Because the recent New Year period describes a time in the past, only the the past tense were can be correct. There is no other possible interpretation of this sentence. – P. E. Dant Sep 27 '16 at 4:19
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The phrase

during the recent New Year period

would be used to refer to the time while New Year occurred in the past. In your example is can only be referred to in the past

Almost all the shops... were closed during the recent New Year period.

However, if the New Year period has already completed but the shops are still closed, it could be described as

Almost all the shops... are closed due to the recent New Year period.
Almost all the shops... are closed during the current New Year period.

which is one possible explaination why other teachers might think "are" should be used.

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