PTG Covid Response

Quick Links

Canadian:

The Government of Canada maintains a single resource page with links to programs for individuals, business and industries: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html
 
In The USA:

Unemployment benefits for the self-employed

Unemployment benefit access has been expanded and now includes the self-employed. Visit https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/unemployment-insurance for a guide to the new Federal guidelines.
 
Note: Each state is responsible for the administration of rules and the application process for Unemployment Insurance: You can look for a link to your state’s agency here https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/find-unemployment-benefits.aspx?newsearch=true

Taxes
A Guide to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) response to Covid-19. Includes information on deadline extensions, estimated tax payments, and other topics of interest
https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
Many states and localities have also extended their deadlines. Please check with your tax professional and/or taxing agency
 
Grants, Loans and other options for small businesses
A Guide to Loans, Grants, the Paycheck Protection Program and Other Small Business Administrations (SBA) Programs
https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options
Not
e: Loans under both the Paycheck Protection Program and the Express Loan Advance Program may be available and expedited through your existing financial institution. You can review details at the SBA website.

Business Insurance Coverage
Answers from PLC insurance, a long-time PTG partner, about insurance coverage for loss of income. 

Covid-19 and Piano Care
A guide for piano technicians and players on safely disinfecting pianos without damage
https://www.ptg.org/covid-19

May 28, 2020

The Back to Work edition

As the world slowly moves towards reopening, please be aware of the current situation in your area as you begin providing service. There is no one size fits all approach.

 

The Piano Technicians Guild is offering a customizable template as a way for members to develop a protocol based on the severity of the pandemic in your local area as well as any special situations involving you and your customers.

The template is available here.

 

May 08, 2020

PTG Office News

Barring last-minute changes by our local government agencies, the PTG staff will gradually be returning to the Home Office starting Monday, May 11. All staff will follow safety recommendations and protocol by wearing masks and practicing social distancing. At the beginning, only one member of the staff will be onsite each day. Office hours remain 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The PTG Store will reopen for orders although shipping will only be done once a week. The Jack Wyatt Museum will remain closed through the end of June.


Back to Work?

As we inch closer to piano technicians having the option to again service pianos in homes and other public locations, doing so safely is a huge concern. Here are some links that might be useful in your planning. The Centers for Disease Control lists six general actions for protecting yourself and others.
1. Know how the coronavirus spreads
2. Wash your hands often
3. Avoid close contact
4. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
5. Cover coughs and sneezes
6. Clean and disinfect

Specific information about providing in-home services is available through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Please adapt your level of protection based on the severity of the pandemic in your local area.


Disinfecting Pianos

The PTG offers technical information for technicians on disinfecting pianos at www.ptg.org/covid-19. If you are looking for a consumer-friendly approach to cleaning pianos to share with customers, the PTG has a short, easily customized blurb available in the members-only area of ptg.org. Visit www.ptg.org/ptgmain/members/benefitsbusiness-resources/stayconnected.


A Fellow Technicians View

How to approach a return to work is generating much conversation, ideas and debate at my.ptg.org. We encourage you to participate.


SBA Updates

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) continues accepting applications. Sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed persons are eligible to apply for the loan program which includes a provision for loan forgiveness. Details are at www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program .

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program is no longer taking applications, except from agriculture businesses. More information about other SBA programs is available at www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options .


Unemployment

Frustration has continued to mount as states struggle to process the huge influx of applications. Since states set up their own systems and rules, they remain the primary source of information for questions. You can find links to your state unemployment agency at www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/find-unemployment-benefits.aspx

There have been reports that individual state representatives and senators have been useful in answering questions. You can find your state representatives at openstates.org/find_your_legislator .

For Canadian members, the government of Canada maintains a single resource page with links to programs for individuals, business and industries at www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html .
Education Updates
The PTG Annual Convention and Technical Institute has been rescheduled for August 4–7. 2021. The location will remain the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld, Orlando FL.
The PTG Mid-Atlantic Regional Convention (MARC) has been rescheduled for April 22-25. 2021.
The PTG Midwest Regional Conference (MRCO) has been rescheduled for October 7-9. 2021.

Don't forget to check out the complete list of online educational resources in the PTG Academy Online. It’s free and available to all PTG members.


April 24, 2020

Customer Service Blurbs

Most technicians are unable to provide piano service at this time, but you can continue to serve your customers remotely. Visit www.ptg.org/stayconnected to find text and videos you can cut and paste into emails and social media posts. Use them as a helpful way to stay in contact and encourage future appointments. We’ve posted a few to start, including a timely piece about cleaning pianos. We'll be adding new content frequently along with other ideas for connecting remotely. Have an idea we can share? Contact Shawn (shawn@ptg.org).


SBA Loans and Grants

New funding appropriations were approved this week for funding both the Paycheck Protection Program and the EIDL Loan Advance.

Details and eligibility requirements for both programs are available at www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options. Sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons may be eligible and current provisions provide ways in which loans may be forgiven.

Please note: Initial appropriations for these programs were quickly exhausted. It’s expected demand will also be high for this second round. If you’re interested in applying, please check the SBA website to see when the application process will re-open.


Unemployment Benefits for the Self-employed

Although the Federal CARES Act extended unemployment benefits to the self-employed, the implementation has been slow. In short, new federal law provides unemployment benefits for self-employed and other workers, adds an additional $600 to weekly benefits, and offers other benefits that you can read about in these FAQs about unemployment insurance or the complete guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor. Implementation has been mixed at best. Each state administers their own Unemployment Insurance program, so individual state websites are the best source for updated information. You can find individual links at www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/find-unemployment-benefits.aspx.


Canadian Member Info

The Government of Canada maintains a single resource page with links to programs for individuals, business and industries: www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html.


April 10, 2020

 

PTG Convention Rescheduled To Next Year

The Piano Technicians Guild Board of Directors has made the difficult decision during a special conference call last night to reschedule the 2020 PTG Convention & Technical Institute in Orlando to next year.

“This was easily the most difficult issue this board had faced,” said PTG President Paul Adams, RPT. “The PTG Convention is an important member benefit and also a key event for the piano industry as a whole. It was not a decision that was made lightly or quickly.

The economic impact of shelter-in-place laws would make it difficult, if not impossible, for many of our members to attend this year. It’s become apparent that the possible risks from holding this event outweigh the benefits,” Adams continued. “The health and safety of all of our participants is our highest priority. We're especially grateful that we've been able to reschedule the upcoming conventions without incurring any penalty fees.”

All convention registrants and exhibitors will receive a full refund of fees over the next month. Check with your airline for a credit to be used for the 2021 Convention if you already purchased a ticket. Remember to cancel any rental car agreements or hotel reservations.

The rescheduled 2020 PTG convention at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld will be held August 4-7, 2021. The current Institute Team will remain in place and as much of the 2020 class schedule as possible will be offered in 2021.

Future PTG Convention dates and locations have also shifted. Upcoming dates are:

2022 - Anaheim, CA - August 3-6
2023 - Arlington, VA - July 26-29
2024 - Reno, NV - July 17-20

The PTG Bylaws Committee is investigating and preparing a report on how the rescheduling will impact elections including the staffing of committees, both elected and appointed.

“We look forward to the 2021 Convention and beyond,” Adams said. “In the meantime, I encourage all PTG members to take advantage of educational opportunities and resources available at www.ptg.org, especially the COVID-19 helpful links shown in red. It is my fervent wish that you all stay healthy and safe.”

 

April 06, 2020

Insurance Coverage for Loss of Income

Sarah Evans from PLC Insurance, a long-time PTG partner, has provided us with some answers about insurance coverage for loss of income. PTG members are inquiring if their insurance with PLC covers loss of income due to the current stay at home mandates. Those with other insurance providers can use the attached information as a general guideline and check with their agent/insurance company.

Evans writes:, “Each PTG member has different policies, some have Business Income Coverage built into their policy, others don’t. Currently we have some members insured with Liberty Mutual, and some with Hanover as we have begun to roll members to a new program. A few are with CNA for one reason or the other.

For those members who do have Business Income Coverage, with any carrier, our belief is that the Business Income Coverage will not apply. The reason for this is that there has to be direct physical loss, ie: fire to the insured premises. With the COVID-19 Pandemic, there is no Physical Loss to the location, or dependent locations (Insured’s homes). Civil Authority has been brought up as a cause of loss, but again, there has to be Physical Loss to a premises for the Civil Authority Coverage to apply. Please review the attached document explaining this in more detail.

This being said, we have been instructing our clients that if they do want to turn in a claim, we will, as each situation is different and each policy is different and ultimately it is up to the carrier to deny a claim. With other business’s with Liberty Mutual where we have turned in a claim, they have declined the claim for the reason’s stated above.

There is of course legislature and lawsuits flying around, and as the situation evolves we are staying on top of it. The carriers have been instructed, in Washington, to send out a notice to all policyholders addressing this question. I imagine this will follow in the upcoming weeks."

If there are further questions please e-mail Sarah, sarah@plcins.com.


April 01, 2020


Unemployment and Small Business Benefit Questions, Answers and Resources

The Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a new type of unemployment insurance for contractors, freelancers, self-employed workers and other people who typically do not qualify for standard unemployment coverage.


Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides emergency support for workers who are left out of their state’s standard unemployment coverage, workers who have already exhausted those benefits or workers who are unable to work due to certain circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The following Q&A covers benefits available to most PTG members in the United States. Our Canadian members should visit www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan/covid19-individuals.html.


Who qualifies for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), those eligible for PUA include:

  • self-employed workers
     • independent contractors
     • freelancers
     • workers seeking part-time work
     • workers who do not have a long-enough work history to qualify for state UI benefits
     • workers who have exhausted their standard state UI benefits

Those who are eligible for their state’s normal unemployment benefits do not qualify for this special pandemic assistance.

 

When do PUA benefits start?

The PUA program runs from January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020, and benefits can be received retroactively for qualifying applicants. Eligibility ends on December 31, unless the program is later extended. PUA benefits can be claimed for a maximum of 39 weeks.


How much will PUA applicants receive?

The calculations are based on the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance program under the Stafford Act, which means the minimum weekly benefit amount payable is half (50%) of the average benefit amount in the state you apply in.


How do I apply for PUA?

Begin by visiting your state’s labor department or equivalent website. You can find that information here: www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/find-unemployment-benefits.aspx?newsearch=true  If you are not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, begin the standard unemployment insurance application process, and apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Check with your individual state to see what documentation is required, Be prepared to provide self-certification that you are partially or fully unemployed.


Do PUA recipients get other benefits from the CARES Act?

Yes. If you qualify for PUA but do not traditionally qualify for your state’s unemployment insurance, you also qualify for:
The Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC): An additional $600 per week through July 31, 2020, and;
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): An extended 13 weeks of coverage provided to unemployed individuals who have exhausted their state’s regular unemployment coverage (in most cases, 26 weeks).

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Small Business Assistance

Numerous programs have been set up at the federal level for small businesses through the Small Business Administration (SBA). This includes both loan programs and emergency grants that don’t require repayment. A guide to these programs, eligibility and the application process is available at: www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19 . Additional programs may be available on a state or local level. Check with your state agencies.

 

March 27, 2020


How PTG Is Working to Serve You

The Piano Technicians Guild Board, staff and membership are working hard to try and provide information and resources to each other in this challenging situation. You’ll still be receiving the Piano Technicians Journal via mail and/or email. We are continually adding new content to the ptg.org websites. The staff is available via email and phone to provide services and answer questions. We are supporting chapters with ideas and resources for continuing to communicate and learn. Exam prep materials are online to help you prepare for RPT exams. The PTG Store is open 24/7. We’re quickly adapting to new ways of communicating and providing services.


The Online PTG Community

We want to invite you to explore my.ptg.org , our interactive social media platform that connects you to your chapter, your region, special interest groups, online educational resources and a number of general forums like Pianotech and CAUT. As always, your participation is vital in making these efforts successful. We encourage you to visit my.ptg.org, login as a member, participate in the conversations and take advantage of the educational resources.


We’ve put together a quick video on how to use my.ptg.org and the resources contained there. The brief guide to main features will help to get you started. Need your login information? You can request it at the sign in screen.


Advance your skills. See the complete list of online educational resources at PTG Academy Online .  It’s free and available to all PTG members.


We are always on the lookout for more great presentations and especially right now. If you have any instructional audio or video presentations, or ideas for presentations that you can create at home to add, please reach out to Clint Sears at  clint@ptg.org . We can offer tips and help edit your video to make the best presentation possible. If you have your own learning seminars or meetings you’d like to share that are hosted somewhere else, please feel free to link them in a new discussion post at the  PTGAO discussion group.

Supplies and Parts. As stay-at-home policies continue to impact piano supply houses, we are encouraging members to use the Tools & Parts: Buy, Sell, Exchange community at my.ptg.org as an alternative option. Member-to-member exchange may at least allow shop work to continue.


Information for Chapters and Regions

As we learn to adapt to the new normal, we want to remind you about the resources for chapter technicals at ptg.org. We have compiled a list of online tools for virtual meetings/seminars for your reference. Visit the Chapter Resources area at ptg.org and click on Chapter Communications, or see posts in the Chapter Leaders my.ptg.org community.

Another option for a virtual meeting is to schedule a Zoom online conference for your members by contacting either Barbara Cassaday (barbara@ptg.org ) or Jim Fariss ( sec@ptg.org ) with the date and time of the meeting and they will schedule it for you through the PTG account. The requester will receive a reply email with the Zoom invitation information to forward to your members. We hope that you will utilize these tools to stay in touch with each other.


Unemployment Options and Low-interest SBA Loans

PTG staff has participated in several industry webinars trying to gain information about possible options for PTG members. At this point, things are changing on an almost hourly basis so please do your research and homework. Here’s what we know so far:


Unemployment -
 There is a possibility that the self-employed may be eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programs as part of the response to the economic duress caused by the Covid-10 virus. Check with your individual state agencies and remember this situation continues to evolve. Visit the U.S, Department of Labor site or your state website for current information.

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) - disaster loan product that’s being used to provide financial aid during the COVID-19 situation is the  Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. All US States are now eligible for the program.

These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. At an interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses, 2.75% for non-profits, SBA offers terms of up to 30 years. There is the possibility that some loans will be forgiven and turned into grants but the SBA had not released any details on how that possibility would be applied. Demand is high and processing time may be 3-4 weeks, so don’t wait. View the timeline, filing requirements and a list of documents required here . For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov .

Canadian members can find information pertinent to them here.

We’ll continue to stay on top of information that may affect your business and share it with you.


March 11, 2019

COVID-19 AND PIANO CARE      

THE PIANO TECHNICIANS GUILD
4444 FOREST AVE.
KANSAS CITY, KS 66106
PHONE: (913) 432-9975
WWW.PTG.ORG
 

The Corona Virus (COVID-19) is having a major impact throughout the world and that includes the world of the piano technician. The Piano Technicians Guild is making the following suggestions for its members as they work in home and other buildings and facilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has specific tips for preparation, protection and care. You can view this information at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/protect/index.html.

 

Special care should be taken when using disinfectant products on a piano. Our thanks to Greg Cheng, RPT, for his invaluable assistance in developing these recommendations.

 

General Recommendations

Use alcohol-based disinfectants, do not use bleach-based disinfectants or any product containing citrus.
If using a spray or liquid bottle, use a disposable towel like WYPALL L30. Put the disinfectant on the towel and not the piano. 
After use, immediately put the towel or disinfectant hand wipe in the trash and wash your hands as the CDC recommends. Do not use reusable towels or cloths which could spread germs to your kit or the next customer.
Always follow up with a dry towel and never leave any liquids on the piano or keys. 


Keys

The keys are the most important part. Generally speaking, most disinfecting wipes or sprays should be safe to use on the keys. If the keys are dirty, Cheng suggests using Cory Key-Brite to clean and then follow up with the disinfecting wipes or sprays. 


Case Parts

Always test the disinfectant in a discrete area before moving forward to ensure there is no adverse reaction. Check to make sure the finish does not come off on the wipe or towel, the finish discolors or changes sheen. If none of this happens after a few minutes, you should be able to proceed. 

High gloss polyester is the most durable to almost any store-bought disinfectants. Always do the test first. If the finish is dirty, Cheng suggests Windex or Cory Pre-Polish Finish Cleaner, followed by the disinfectant, then for the final step use the Cory Super High-Gloss Piano Polish. Make sure to always follow up with a dry towel. 

Polyurethane and lacquer finishes require a more careful approach. Disinfectant wipes and sprays may be harmful to these finishes. Test an area first. In these cases, Cheng recommends a few drops of hand/dish soap with warm water on a towel. Make sure to always follow up with a dry towel. 

For satin pianos always wipe down the piano in the direction of the 'hand rubbed' finish or grain. Going in the opposite direction may result in hazing or scratch marks. 

 Aged, alligatored, and damaged finishes are a challenge. It is difficult to know what is best to keep the integrity of the finish and still clean thoroughly. Always test an area and proceed with caution.  

Cleaning pianos is a gentle process not a scrubbing process. Pressing hard or vigorous scrubbing may lead to scratching or removing the finish. Always proceed with caution and use common sense. Remember to wash your hands after you have thrown away the towels or wipes.  

More discussions about COVID 19 and other piano related topics can be found at www.myptg.org.

The Piano Technicians Guild is the world’s premier source of piano service expertise. It promotes the highest possible standards of piano service by providing opportunities for professional development, by recognizing technical competence through examinations and by advancing the interests of its members.

Gregory Cheng, RPT  is a Registered Piano Technician. Along with servicing in home customers, concert venues, and universities, Greg also specializes in PianoDisc, QRS, Disklavier, Steinway Spirio player systems, rebuilding and polyester/lacquer furniture repair.  Greg is currently the General Manager and Chief Technician for Allied Piano & Finish LLC, serving the trade since 1970.

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How to donate Masks and other Supplies:

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to expand, it's causing shortages in the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that front-line providers need. This includes masks and gloves.

In response to the PPE shortage, a group of scientists, engineers, and medical professionals living in the US have set up the website findthemasks.com, asking for donations to help keep healthcare workers-and the people they come into contact with-safe.

If you're able to help with a donation, please visit this website and see what locations close to you are accepting donations. findthemasks.com

If you don't see a location close to you, PPE Link suggests calling your local hospital and letting the charge nurse know what you have.  In addition, there may be other organizations and medical facilities coordinating local efforts.