NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Event space owners are taking COVID-19 precautions following a year filled with financial hardship for the industry.

Shutdowns by the state of Tennessee and local governments heavily restricted weddings, meetings and parties.

While business for event venues is coming back as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, customers may see businesses require COVID-19 releases in case they’re forced to shut down again.

For Cherylann Stephens, the manger and owner of Wilburn Street Studio, the last year for business has not been good.

“One day it was a full– it was like a fire hydrant had been turned on and the fire hydrant had been turned off,” Stephens said.

The restrictions on the amount of people allowed to gather was especially difficult for the business.

“We had 55 weddings booked for the event space over the next 18 months, two years… and it just stopped,” Stephens said.

As restrictions become lifted, weddings, banquets and corporate events are beginning to come back to use event spaces. COVID-19 clauses are being added to new contracts.

“We have hard cost that are due every single day, whether there’s an event here or not,” Stephens said.

COVID-19 releases allow companies and patrons to agree on COVID-19 related issues in the event future restrictions are imposed again.

“A lot of these weddings are booked a year in advance. So, I had funds coming in 2019 for 2020 that got postponed,” Stephens said. “Well, the funds that deposit that comes in maintains our space all year long so it’s here when the wedding comes in.”

Masks, sanitizer and other COVID-19 prevention steps are in place, but the cost with restrictions have been heavy on businesses.

“All of us venue spaces are all dealing with the same thing,” Stephens said. “You know we’ve got insurance, we’ve got rent, our leasing or mortgages, employees and all of these things that are constantly draining our finances so when all of this happened it put us all in positive cash flow to a negative real fast.”

But event spaces like Wilburn Street Studio in Nashville are open for business.

“The lovely thing is when it comes to weddings people are still going to get married, they’re still going to do it — we love that and Wilburn Street will be here for them when they do,” said Stephens.

Operators of live venues, museums, movie theaters and related-businesses can apply for the ‘shuttered venue operators grant’ through the Small Business Association.