Hurricanes and snow storms change the definition of essential personnel. The hurricane today is one of those days when you really hope your employer doesn't consider you essential personnel.
Formerly my definition of essential personnel were people like nurses, doctors, police, firefighters, and other emergency personnel. But essential personnel has come to mean 'whoever your boss can force into either staying at work or coming into work even in extremely hazardous conditions.' Should a casino worker be essential personnel? Should a retail sales person? My answer to this is NO!
Essential personnel should be needed for the health and welfare of the community. This does not mean the manager of the local convenience store should be essential personnel just because you need ice. It doesn't mean if you work at a casino they should be able to keep you at work.
It does mean if you go to the Emergency Room there should be staff there to care for you. Or if you need the police they will have as many officers as possible on duty to eliminate extremely long waiting periods. Or if you have a medical emergency ambulance personnel will be on duty.
Did your boss call you in to work stating the 'essential personnel' rules? Just out of curiosity what job do you perform that is so essential that you had to risk your life driving on the roads in hazardous conditions.