A person walks past Alek's Barber Shop and Santoli TV...

A person walks past Alek's Barber Shop and Santoli TV and AC repair along Main Street, in Port Washington in November, 2020. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

A rarely enforced law that can best be described as shear madness has been wiped off the books.

A section of New York's business law that prohibits barbering on Sundays — yes that was really the law — was repealed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew M Cuomo. The repeal takes place immediately.

"This is the very definition of an archaic and meaningless law that makes little to no sense in the 21st century," Cuomo said in a statement. "While not routinely enforced, I'm more than happy to sign this repeal into law and allow these businesses to determine what days they choose to operate."

The decades-old law, which records show appeared to target bootlegging in barbershops, made it illegal for barbers to engage in "shaving, hair cutting or other work of a barber on the first day of the week."

Violation of the law, while rarely enforced, was a misdemeanor, punishable by a $5 fine for a first offense. Repeat offenses could result in fines of $10 to $25 and even a potential jail sentence of 10-25 days.

Newsday's archives revealed no stories on the law ever being enforced but a story in the now-defunct County Review, based in Riverhead, indicates that two East Hampton barbers were arrested for violating the law in 1918.

"The law prescribes that only stores selling drugs, tobacco, ice cream, and confectionery may be open on Sunday and it is understood that the State Police will see that this provision is strictly enforced," the article states.

A person walks past Alek's Barber Shop and Santoli TV...

A person walks past Alek's Barber Shop and Santoli TV and AC repair along Main Street, in Port Washington in November, 2020. Credit: Erin Geismar

While records seem to indicate the law was actually not well-enforced, some might say that's splitting hairs.

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