Lockdown Made Their Second Date Last Weeks. Would Romance Bloom?

When Zhao Xiaoqing first met Zhao Fei on a blind date, the sparks didn’t really fly.

When they met for a second time at his home in northwest China in December, it lasted longer than they both expected.

Facing a new outbreak of coronavirus cases, the health authorities announced a lockdown so sudden and severe that she didn’t have time to scurry home.

So for nearly four weeks, Zhao Xiaoqing has lived in the city of Xianyang, in Shaanxi Province, with the family of Zhao Fei, a man she had barely known. (They share a last name but are not related.)

“Initially, I was quite worried about things being awkward,” said Ms. Zhao, who is from Baoji, about 93 miles away, or a two-hour drive by car. “But I got along well with his family.”

Chinese officials have employed swift lockdowns across the country as one of its top strategies to rapidly stamp out infections. Last month, officials locked down 13 million people in the city of Xi’an, which borders Xianyang, for mass testing after an outbreak. The scale and the length of that lockdown led residents to complain about running out of food and their treatment by the authorities. A pregnant woman lost her baby after she had to wait for hours at a hospital because she was unable to prove she did not have Covid-19.

But at Mr. Zhao’s house, a romance was blossoming. Ms. Zhao spent her days working on her family’s business, promoting her father’s fresh apples on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok.

“Sometimes I lost track of time when working; he would remind me to take a break,” she said of her date.

His consideration impressed her.

Mr. Zhao, who runs his own e-commerce business selling hair products, sometimes cooked fried rice for her. She, in turn, encouraged him to take online lessons in his free time.

He said that because circumstances forced them to spend time together, they got to know each other better. “We were able to move forward in a speedy fashion,” he said.

When the authorities lifted the lockdown on Friday, Ms. Zhao was free to leave. Instead, she plans to stay until Lunar New Year, and that’s not the end of the story.

“Lots of friends were curious about whether the blind date was a success,” Ms. Zhao said beaming in a video on Douyin last week. “Of course, it was.”

She announced that they planned to get engaged in two weeks and hoped to marry in the summer. Her parents were supportive, she said.

As for Mr. Zhao, he said he had found true love.

“I’m quite happy,” he said. “We basically found each other by an accident of fate.”

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