Photo/Illutration Reservations are required to enter this office in Shanghai that accepts applications for marriage or divorce procedures. The photo was taken on March 17. (Kanako Miyajima)

So much for solidarity.

Local governments in China are being overwhelmed by divorce papers filed by couples who apparently became fed up with each other while being stuck at home during the novel coronavirus epidemic.

As the number of new infections continues to decline in China, lockdowns have been lifted and local governments around the country are resuming full-scale services. Immediately after opening their offices, they found a soaring number of married couples who want to split up.

According to Chinese media, the Xian city government in Shaanxi province had stopped accepting applications for marriage or divorce procedures in late January following the spread of the virus.

The city resumed services on March 2. But to prevent its offices from becoming overcrowded, the local government set a cap on the number of applications it accepts a day and also limited the applications to those who had made reservations.

Seventeen city offices were flooded with divorce applications, and reservations are now fully booked until March 18.

The city governments of Heyuan in Guangdong province and Dazhou in Sichuan province are also reportedly receiving many reservations for divorce proceedings.

Although the flood of reservations may be a result of the long shutdown of government services, Zhou Xiaopeng, an expert on marital relationships, pointed to another cause.

In a post on her official social media account, Zhou said married couples became stressed out after being forced to work from home and confined to their residences together for a long period. Under these conditions, she said, couples tend to fight more and lose feelings of attachment to each other.

Zhou, who has previously appeared on a TV program about marriage counseling broadcast by the state-run China Central Television, said more married couples feel they can no longer put up with each other after spending so much time face-to-face stuck in their homes.

She said that during times like this, married couples should try to remember the earlier affections they felt toward their spouses.